Healthy Vegan Queso
This Vegan Queso is silky smooth and packed full of healthy ingredients. It’s 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 for one second that it tastes like real cheese. It’s definitely wannabe 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’m 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. Seeing how squash season is right around the corner, you can probably guess which one I chose.
That’s right, the butternut! Also known as butt squash per my grocery list. :)
Rather than roast the squash which tends to bring out it’s natural sweetness, I decided to boil it on the stove top with a little bit of plain unsweetened rice milk.
You can use whatever kind of plain non-dairy milk you prefer but I wanted to test it that way for those with nuts or soy allergies to make sure it works the same.
So after sauteing the onion, carrot and garlic, you toss in the squash with the milk, bring it to a low boil and allow it to cook for about ten minutes, until it’s nice and soft.
Then you let that cool down, throw it in a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend on high until silky smooth.
Now I should note that I used a high speed blender so I can’t confirm if a regular blender will work the same. Based on my prior experiences, I would guess that it would still be a little lumpy but if you transferred the mixture back to the pot and then used an immersion blender as well, it might be able to achieve a similar smooth texture.
By the way, 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.
Moving on, let’s talk about the flavor!
The butternut squash yields a slight hint of sweetness so in order to counter that I used white vinegar and tamari sauce as well as a few teaspoons of mustard for a little tang and cumin for a little spice.
I personally prefer blending in a chili with adobo sauce along with a can of roasted green chilis for extra flavor. 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.
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! ;)
3 and 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash (approx. 1 medium size squash)
1/3 cup diced carrot (approx. 1 large carrot)
1 cup diced onion (approx. 1 small onion)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk*
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari**
2 teaspoons mustard
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce***
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilis (optional but recommended)
- Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the cubed butternut squash and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Next pour in the milk, cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat to medium-high. Allow to cook at a low boil for about 10-12 minutes, until the squash is 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****. Taste test to see if you prefer more salt or seasoning and add as needed.
- Stir in the green chilis, if using, then pour into a container for serving. Garnish with chilis, diced tomato and/or cilantro then serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
*I used rice milk to make it nut-free but you can use any non-dairy milk you prefer as long as it’s plain and unsweetened.
**substitute coconut aminos for a soy-free alternative
***one chili gives this queso a mild-to-medium level of spice. If you prefer less, you can use 1-2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce from the can instead of adding the chili.
****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.