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Cheese Dip [vegan]

Friday, May 19, 2017

Recipe adopted from America's Test Kitchen's Vegan For Everybody.  [Recipe makes 2 cups].

I know that I'm not alone when I say that some of my favorite snacks involve cheese dip (soft pretzels dipped in nacho cheese, tortilla chips served with some sort of hot cheese sauce, or even tacos or burritos topped with "liquid gold").  But as we all know, these snacks are far from healthy choices.  Most pre-made versions are packed with salt, artificial flavorings, artificial colors, and of course dairy.  So what are we supposed to do?  Just cut these classics from our diets?

Not necessarily...

Rather, let's turn to potatoes for a solution.

Yes, you heard me right: potatoes for the win!

Some of you may recall that the combination of potatoes and fast moving blades (food processors or even blenders) is a recipe for disaster when making mashed potatoes.  But the reasoning behind breaking this rule just happens to be the basis for this recipe.  When potatoes are overworked, starch is released, causing your potatoes to be gummy and sticky.  While this would be awful for mashed potatoes, this is perfect for creating a healthy alternative to nacho cheese!  If I had to guess, this recipe is 90% vegetables by volume, followed by healthy spices and a little bit of salt.  Guilt-free, right?

Now, I'll state the same thing I said when I posted about vegan macaroni and cheese last month:  this version of cheese dip is not meant to replicate the Velveeta dip we're all familiar with.  Rather, it's a healthy alternative that has similar qualities and is equally as enjoyable.

INGREDIENTS:

12 ounces russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-5/8 ounce (~1/3 cup) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1-5/8 ounce (~1/3 cup) finely chopped onion
1-5/8 ounce (~1/3 cup) minced poblano chile
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

DIRECTIONS:

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and add the potatoes and carrots.  Cook until tender, roughly 12 minutes.  Drain and reserve.

Add the cooked vegetables, 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, nutritional yeast, vinegar, and salt in a high-speed blender.  Pulse 10 times, making sure to scrape down the sides a couple of times.  Then blend on high speed for 2 minutes.  [Side note:  Typically putting potatoes in a blender is a big no-no, since it releases starch and makes the mixture sticky.  But for a recipe like this where we're trying to imitate the texture of nacho cheese dip, the method is perfect].

While the mixture is blending, heat your remaining tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and poblano, and stir for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Add the garlic, chipotle, cumin, and mustard, and cook and stir for an additional 30 seconds.  Lastly, add the mixture from the blender and stir.  Serve immediately.  [Side note:  If you have leftovers, cool, and re-heat in the microwave.  Add a little bit of water, cover with plastic wrap, and then cook and stir in 30 second increments].

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