Made with raw cashews and red bell pepper, this cheesy-flavored vegan cheddar spread or sauce is an irresistible treat. Used in either way (or as a spread), it packs a flavorful punch.
Though there’s no actual vegan cheese used here, the combination of cashews, red bell pepper, nutritional yeast, and smoky seasonings gives this a delicious, cheddar cheese-like flavor and texture.
How to use this cheesy-flavored vegan delicacy
- As a spread or dip: It’s fantastic on sliced fresh baguette, bruschetta, or whole-grain-crackers. It’s also great with an array of raw vegetables, especially celery, cauliflower, broccoli, and Belgian endive. And it’s so quick and easy to prepare.
- As a sauce: Toss with hot or cold cooked pasta, or dollop it onto baked potatoes or cooked grains. It’s also excellent as a sauce for the cruciferous veggies — broccoli and cauliflower in particular.
Barbecue seasoning: What gives this preparation its special kick is barbecue seasoning blend, which you can find in the spice section of any well-stocked supermarket. McCormick Grill Mates® is one of the popular brands; other brands can be found in specialty stores or online.
These seasoning blends are fantastic flavor-boosters for plant proteins. Flavors include smokehouse maple, mesquite, chipotle, and there are lots of others. They’re all good; choose your favorite!
Though sautéing a bell pepper doesn’t take much time or effort, this recipe offers the option of using a red bell pepper from a jar if you prefer.
The barbecue seasoning will add a nice smoky flavor without spiciness, but if you do want to kick the smokiness up a notch, use the smoked paprika rather than the sweet paprika option. The nutritional yeast adds to the cheesy flavor.
Smoky Vegan Cheddar Cheesy Dip or Sauce
Made with raw cashews and red bell pepper, this vegan cheddar cheez is an irresistible treat. Used as a dip, sauce, or spread, it packs a flavorful punch.
- 1 cup raw chopped cashews
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (or see Note)
- 1/2 cup cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, or drained and crumbled firm tofu
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
- 1 teaspoon prepared yellow or Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons barbecue seasoning blend, such as mesquite (see Note)
- 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of dry mustard, optional
- Combine the cashews with enough hot water to cover in a heatproof bowl. Allow to stand for about an hour.
- Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the bell pepper and sauté over medium heat until it starts to brown lightly here and there, stirring frequently.
- Combine the soaked cashews, bell pepper, and all the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula from time to time. It takes a good few minutes to make this smooth.
- To serve: If using as a dip or spread, transfer to an attractive crock or shallow bowl and surround with fresh bread, grilled bread (bruschetta), crackers, and/or raw vegetables. If using as a sauce, toss with hot noodles or dollop onto baked potatoes or hot cooked grains. It’s also a great sauce for steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
Variation: Use a fresh hot chile pepper (seeded and chopped) to give this a spicy kick.
If you like this easy red pepper dip, you might also enjoy …
For another vegan cheesy dip, see …
Here are more vegan sauces & dressings and easy appetizers.
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