Vegan Sour Cream

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Choosing to eat vegan food doesn’t mean you have to give up sour cream! Yes, you read that right. I served this vegan sour cream as a condiment along side tomato salsa  for my vegan quesadillas the other day (made with chickpeas, roasted red pepper, chipotle and leeks), and boy was it good! I’ve served vegan sour cream with curries, stroganoffs, soups and chilis and I have turned it into a salad dressing by thinning it out and adding a variety of different herbs and seasonings. I honestly don’t miss dairy-based sour cream at all.

You need only 4 ingredients to prepare this recipe and from start to finish, the whole thing can be made in less than 10 minutes. This vegan sour cream contains no oil, tofu or soy, and no nutritional yeast.* I serve it in place of dairy based sour cream all the time and no one has ever complained. In fact, people are pleasantly surprised when they learn that it’s dairy-free because it tastes so good! 

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Some recipes call for soaking nuts for anywhere between 8-24 hours but I don’t find it necessary to soak cashews for that long. A couple of hours is plenty if you have a powerful enough blender. I made this in my VitaMix to obtain a really creamy texture with the consistency of commercial sour cream.

The recipe yields a little under one cup but the amounts are easy to double or triple. The sour cream will thicken and firm up as it sits in the refrigerator – it will become as thick as the commercial stuff. But if you want to pour it, you can – just give it a good whisk. Sour cream lasts about 7-10 days in the refrigerator.


INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 2 – 4 hours
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp.  sea salt
  • 1/4  cup water

INSTRUCTIONS

Place all ingredients into your blender (I used my Vitamix). Blend on high for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the blender and  then blend on high for another 30-60 seconds, until very smooth and creamy.

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Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid, or any other airtight container. 

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*Nutritional yeast is a controversial ingredient. It is often included in recipes for non-dairy substitutes, such as sour cream and nut cheeses, to bring out the ‘cheesy’ flavour.  Some vegans believe it is a good source of Vitamin B12 but that may not be true.  Nutritional yeast containing Vitamin B12 has been fortified with vitamin B12, which means it is added to the yeast rather than occurs naturally. And not all brands of nutritional yeast are  fortified with vitamin B12. You would need to investigate the brand  to know whether or not you will get any Vitamin B12 from a particular source of nutritional yeast.  Apart from the controversy, I don’t like to use it because I don’t really like the flavor of it. This article doesn’t clear up the controversy surrounding the health benefits of nutritional yeast, or or lack thereof, but it is a good starting point if you are unfamiliar with the concerns surrounding nutritional yeast and want more information. 

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Butternut Squash with Roasted Vegetables

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I didn’t plan on preparing something as autumn-ish as this over the May long weekend but the weather has been cold and gloomy all weekend. It has literally rained all day, every single day. We even had snow on Sunday!  So, were having baked squash in May.

Roasting a big batch of vegetables can set you up nicely for faster dinner prep during the week. They can be added to soups, salads and pasta dishes or they can be spooned over baked potatoes or rice. I find it really useful to have extra roasted vegetables on hand, so I often make more than I need. The vegetables I chosen for this dish were the vegetables in my refrigerator at the time – you could easily switch these for your favourites. (As I was preparing this dish, I kept wishing I had Brussel sprouts  – I think they would be a great vegetable to add!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed

Roasted vegetables

  • 1 small broccoli, trimmed and washed
  • 1 red bell pepper, halved, seeds and ribs removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, root ends cut off, and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 yam, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium bulb of fennel, fonds removed, thickly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, thickly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and thickly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided (save half for the assembly)
  • Fresh ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cut each squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and strings using a spoon. Place squash, skin side down on a roasting pan. Pour 1/4-inch of water in the bottom of the pan to keep the squash moist. Roast for 40-60 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until tender and cooked through. (The squash can be prepared to this point ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring the squash back to room temperature before continuing).

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While the squash are roasting prepare the rest of the vegetables. Line another large, shallow baking sheet with parchment. Coarsely chop all of the vegetables slightly larger than bite-size pieces and place them in a large bowl or Ziploc bag.

Add one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of pomegranate molasses to the prepped vegetables and toss to evenly coat the vegetables. Dump everything onto the parchment lined baking sheet and shake the pan to spread the vegetables in a single layer. (Divide the vegetables between 2 pans if they will not fit on one pan in a single layer). Lightly season with salt and pepper. Bake for 40-50 minutes. (If necessary, rotate the tray halfway through to ensure the vegetables cook evenly). Vegetables are done when they are crisp-tender and beginning to brown around the edges.

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Assembly

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Gently turn squash haves cut-side up in the roasting pan. Combine the remaining tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses with the minced garlic and toss that with the roasted vegetables.  Mound the roasted vegetables inside the cavity and on top of the squash halves. Place the squash halves in the oven, loosely cover the pan, and heat through ( about 20-25 minutes).

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Southwestern Black Bean Salad

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I have been serving this black bean salad to family and friends for at least 20 years – so long that I have no idea where the original recipe came from. That is to say that it was given to me by a friend, but where she found it, I cannot say. It’s a gem to have in your repertoire because its so fast and easy to make and it keeps well for days in the refrigerator. I have  removed the oil from the original recipe but this is a tried and true family favourite. I often take it to pot lucks and barbecues where, without fail, someone will always ask for the recipe.

When at home I eat this on its own for lunch, along side a small baked yam for dinner (my favourite) or I’ll throw it over cooked grains, such as farro or quinoa. so, try  it – it doesn’t get much easier than this!

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INGEDIENTS

  • 1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen, thawed
  • ½ cup red onion, finely minced
  • ½ cup red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. pickled jalapenos, drained, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Dressing

  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Celtic or Himalayan sea salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad just before serving. Toss to blend the salad ingredients with dressing. Salad keeps well, refrigerated, for several days.

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The pickled jalapeños and fresh cilantro are key flavours in this recipe and I wouldn’t attempt it without either of them. Fresh lime juice is preferable to fresh lemon juice but either could be used in a punch.

Yield: 6 generous servings (or a larger crowd if served as a side dish).

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