Healthy Vegan Queso
Healthy Vegan Queso- silky smooth and made with nutritious ingredients. Nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free.
Did you ever think the words healthy and queso would go together in the same sentence? I sure didn’t. But then again this isn’t real queso and I’m not going to pretend that it tastes exactly like real cheese.
That said, if you can separate the two and appreciate it for what it is on it’s own, it’s pretty damn amazing.
Vegan cheese has been one of the harder things for me to get used to because I just love the real thing so much. But with football season in full swing, I’ve been devouring comfort food like nobody’s business and I’ve got a find a way to cut corners where I can.
So I thought I’d try a lighter version of queso with a base made solely from veggies. I went with a combo of butternut squash, AKA butt squash per my grocery list, carrot, onion and potato.
Rather than roast the squash which tends to bring out it’s natural sweetness, I decided to boil it on the stove top. The squash and the carrot help give it a yellow/orange color while the natural starches from the potato give it more of a cheesy texture.
A FEW QUICK NOTES
- The butternut squash and the carrot yields a very slight hint of sweetness. I have tried it with potato in place of the butternut squash and while the flavor is better, there is less nutritional benefit. I’ll let you decide which way you prefer to make it!
- I personally prefer adding chipotle powder along with roasted green chilis for extra flavor and spice. Those really make it taste incredible, but I know not everyone likes things spicy so I wrote the recipe with those two ingredients as optional.
- I used a high speed blender so I can’t confirm if a regular blender will provide the same results. Based on prior experiences my guess is that it might not be as smooth. If you’re on the fence about buying a Vitamix, I highly recommend doing it. I waited six years to buy mine because I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money on a blender but now that I have it, I love it. I think it’s especially useful for vegans considering how smooth it can make non-dairy sauces and soups.
- Our favorite way to eat this queso is on top of loaded chili nachos paired with a nice cold beer. Which leads me to the next recipe, coming very soon! ;)
Healthy Vegan Queso
Yield: 4 cups
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 20
Total Time: 30
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/4 cup chopped carrot (about 1 medium-size carrot)
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 cup (1-inch) cubed butternut squash (or sub more potato)*
2 cups (1-inch) cubed russet potato (about 1 large potato)
1 cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk**
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari***
1 teaspoon mustard powder
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional but recommended)
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilis (optional)
In a large pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the cubed butternut squash (if using), potato and garlic then cook for another 2 minutes.
Pour in the milk then bring to a boil. Reduced to a simmer, cover with a lid and allow to cook at a low boil for about 10-15 minutes, until the squash and potato are very tender. You should be able to mash it with a fork. Once it’s done, set the pot aside and allow to cool.
After the squash mixture has cooled, transfer it to a blender and add in the remaining ingredients. Blend on high until smooth. Add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, if needed. Taste test to see if you prefer more salt or seasoning and add as needed.
Stir in the green chilis by hand, if using, then pour into a bowl for serving. Garnish with chilis, diced tomato and/or cilantro. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
*You can also substitute 1 cup of potato (two potatoes total for the recipe) if you do not want to use butternut squash. You may need to add about 1/4 cup more milk when blending.
**Rice milk makes this nut-free but any non-dairy milk you prefer as long as it’s plain and unsweetened.
***substitute coconut aminos for a soy-free alternative
****1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder gives this queso a mild level of spice. Add more if you prefer. You can also use 1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce from a can instead of the powder.
*****I recommend using a high speed blender to achieve a smooth texture. I haven’t tried this in a regular blender so I’m not sure if it will work the same.
Nutrition Facts are for 1/8th of recipe (about 1/2 cup)