Okay, I am fully aware that is one giant claim above. But it’s true. I’ve been making this sauce for years, and everyone always begs me for the recipe. I have even seen people lick their plates clean with this stuff!
I will be doing a demo with this recipe at an event this weekend (Healthy Living & Gluten-Free Expo) in Salem, Oregon. I also shared it at another event last weekend. It is so good, easy to make, and super versatile as well. You will be making it over and over again. It will become your little black dress of recipes. The recipe itself is in my new book Vegan Casseroles. But, because I love you guys so much, I’m sharing some special hacks with you here, so that this delicious recipe can be made into some extraordinary sauces!
Now before I share the recipe, I need to spill the secrets. The first one is Instant Clearjel. I’ve mentioned it before when I posted my recipe for freezer jam. This stuff is truly amazing, and will make a super-star chef out of you in seconds. This stuff is especially miraculous with dairy-free sauces. Yes, it’s a staple in my bag of tricks. It’s made from waxy maize (corn) and is apparently non-GMO too. It’s an instant cornstarch of sorts, which will quickly thicken your sauces to perfection, without a stitch of heat or cooking. So all you have to do is put your ingredients in the blender, whiz them up until smooth, and then with the blender on the lowest speed setting, add in the Instant Clearjel a spoonful at a time through the top of your blender lid, until it’s the desired thickness. Once it’s thick, I blend it a little more until it’s super smooth. That’s it! The sauce will keep in the fridge for about a week. You can use it as a base in your casseroles, stir it into your tofu scrambles (my personal fave!), stir in some of the homemade chili powder from Vegan Casseroles (video and recipe coming soon to Everyday Dish) along with some salsa and warm it up for some of the best queso sauce ever, stir it into cooked macaroni (gluten-free or regular) for an amazing vegan mac and cheese, or just serve it with a side of chips. This sauce is amazing, and you can pretty much serve it with everything! I stand behind this sauce.
Oh, and another thing about this miraculous powder. You know how puddings and sauces made with cornstarch get kind of thick and gloppy after they sit? You will not have this with ICJ. The sauces remain silky and smooth, even after days in the refrigerator!
If you don’t have Instant Clearjel but want to make the sauce now, the recipe calls for a combo of oat flour and cornstarch. This thickens the sauce beautifully and will make an excellent casserole.
You can find Instant Clearjel on Amazon, King Arthur Flour website and other stores online. It’s been used primarily used by bakeries for over 50 years, because it thickens fruit pies amazingly well. A fruit pie can often take up to an hour and a half to bake and get that filling properly thickened, potentially over-browning your crust. With this magic powder, the filling is perfectly thickened and ready to go once your crust is golden brown. There’s no more guessing if the filling is thick.
My other hack I mentioned above, which is stirring in some of the homemade chili powder from Vegan Casseroles (a million times better than store-bought!), and a little fresh salsa. You can also add some thinly sliced scallions/green onions too. Did I mention that your friends and guests might try to leave with your dip, so you may want to check everyone’s purses at the door. I actually love the above queso stirred into cooked pasta for a queso mac and cheese too.
Alright, without further ado, here is the recipe for you!
I’ve been playing with different variations of this sauce for a long time. I finally hit on my favorite version, which is this sauce. The combination of the oat flour and cornstarch, give it just the right body, and the nutritional yeast flakes, seasonings and vegan cheddar give it a nice cheesy flavor. Although you may be tempted to substitute tapioca starch for the cornstarch, don’t. I’ve tried, and it just doesn’t come out as good.
- 3 cups plain, unsweetened soymilk (or 1 1/2 cups water + 1 1/2 cups plain soymilk)
- 1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 8 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 3 tablespoons oat flour (if using Instant Clearjel, omit)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (if using Instant Clearjel, omit)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- Sriracha sauce, optional
- In the jar of a blender, combine the soymilk, cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, oat flour, cornstarch, salt, paprika, and granulated onion. Blend the mixture at high speed until completely smooth and no bits of nuts remain. If you don’t have a big blender, blend the mixture in two batches.
- Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring sauce to a simmer, whisking continuously. Once mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook, whisking continuously until thick, about 5 to 10 minutes, until there is no starchy flavor.
- Tip: If you don’t have a strong blender, make sure to soak your cashews for two hours before using. Alternately, you can simmer them for 5 minutes. Drain them before using. If you want your sauce a little richer, increase the cashews to 1/2 cup.
- Gluten-Free: To make this sauce gluten-free, make sure to use a gluten-free oat flour.
- Recipe adapted with permission from Vegan Casseroles, by Julie Hasson, 2014, Running Press