Friday, March 20, 2009

A Cheesy Imposter (Gluten Free, Casein Free, and Soy Free "Cheese" Sauce)

There are days when you just need a warm bowl of macaroni and cheese.

Except for that little fact that you've realized cheese (along with gluten and soy) seems to hurt your tummy. And you know, that whole low carb thing...

Well sometimes the low carb thing has to sit on the sidewalk for a day or two days, or maybe a week...
And until you feel like eating another bowl of cauliflower... Tinkyada will have to do.

So what do you do when you want a bowl of mac and cheese... but you can't have cheese anymore?

Do you pout? Do you sob? Do you fuss? (We fuss in the south!)

Go ahead... pout, sob, and fuss... but you can still make mac and cheese! Really! You can!!

I've tried making a dairy free "cheese" sauce before, but I never had much success. It never really tasted "cheesy" to me... and well... that has to be a priority!

So I pondered what makes "cheese" taste and feel like cheese...

* Salt -- have you ever realized how salty cheese is?

* Texture -- homemade cheese sauce has a certain texture about it.

* Pungent flavor -- depending on the cheese, especially for "cheddar-esque" sauces, there is a depth of pungent and tangy flavor.

* Color -- let's face it.. a cheddar sauce has to be somewhere in between a gentle yellow and the neon orange of our childhood... it just has too!

* Melting Factor (or "viscosity" if you are my husband) -- Along with texture, the cheese sauce has to "melt" in a certain way for it to really be a good sauce.

* Aroma -- Last but not least... if it doesn't tease your taste buds with a cheesy aroma, do you really want it?

So now that you've thought about cheese much more than you ever wanted too... here is how I came up with this recipe for a gluten free, casein free, soy free, and yeast free "cheese sauce"":

For the texture and flavor: a combination of pureed chick peas, tahini, and cashews.

For the color, flavor, and aroma: a mixture of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, worchestershire sauce, tumeric, ground mustard, garlic, and pimientos.

For consistency and viscosity: hemp milk and olive oil.

If you are on a gluten free and casein free diet, or even if you just happened to run out of cheddar and you have all these wonderful ingredients in your pantry, please give this sauce a try! I would LOVE to know what you think!!

Carrie's Cheesy Imposter Sauce
(Gluten free, casein free, soy free, yeast free)

2/3 cup unsweetened hemp milk (** see notes)
3-4 tablespoons cooked chick peas (canned is fine!)
1 heaping tablespoon tahini
3-4 tablespoons cashews (or pine nuts)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon - 3/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (add to taste)
1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
3/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon diced pimiento peppers
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients in blender and puree until very smooth. Pour mixture into a sauce pan and heat on the stove on med-high heat for several minutes until heated through. Pour heated cheese sauce over pasta, potatoes, rice, vegetables, etc... Place leftover sauce in an airtight container and store in refrigerator. Consume within 2-3 days. We ate this "mac and cheese" with cut up pieces of our favorite all beef franks.

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It was that good!

Carrie's Notes:

* My dear friend Clara tested this recipe for me. She added bit more worchestershire sauce and cashews and served this sauce over potatoes.

* Add more or less hemp milk to the sauce for the creaminess you need. I used hemp milk as my non-dairy milk because it is very creamy and delicious. If you do not have hemp milk available, use your favorite non-dairy milk.

* Play with the spices and flavors in this sauce. It's up to you, if you like the flavor of mustard, add more! If you like the tang of lemon juice, add more! If you don't like pimientos, leave them out!

* Add more or less chick peas and cashews to create the texture you like.

* Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce IS gluten free!

* REHEATING TIPS = If you want to reheat this sauce, make sure to store the sauce separately from your pasta or vegatables! The sauce may dry out slightly upon reheating. You can simply add additional hemp milk to restore the moisture to the sauce.

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  1. Yum, yum, yum! Delish!

    What a stroke of genius. Thank you for a wonderful CF/SF recipe, Carrie!

    Cheesy goodness, here I come! :D

  2. Very inventive Carrie. I'm okay with cheese which is good because I love it. I know others who aren't though. I'll be passing this along.

  3. This will be fun to try -- I never thought of trying chickpeas and cashews! We've had great success with this GFCF Mac and Cheese recipe that our kiddos absolutely ADORE, but I love tinkering with ideas -- Thanks for some new inspiration, Carrie!

    ~Michelle @ In The Life of a Child

  4. Thanks Clara!! I'm SO glad you enjoyed the sauce!! you rock girl!!

    Linda -- Thank you! I hope this recipe is helpful to your dairy free friends!!

    melanie -- If you try this, please let me know what you think!! I'll definitely have to give your butternut squash version a go!!

    Calvary Girl -- I added a link to the post so that you can see the brand of garlic granules i buy! It is simply 100% garlic that has been dried and chopped into granules. They have SERIOUSLY good flavor and I use the Spike brand Garlic Magic in nearly everything!! ;-)

  5. Wow, Carrie! That's one brilliant recipe!

  6. That sounds amazing! I can't have cashews, however.. would another nut work as well? Maybe pine nuts?

  7. Meagan -- YES pine nuts should work out beautifully! YOu don't need many and they are soft, so that should work really well! I hope you'll try it!!

  8. Thank you for answering Carrie. So, my husband cooks like crazy with garlic salt, the garlic granules, would essentially replace the garlic salt then, am I right? That would be so great!! I'm a big garlic user.

    My Blogs: CalvaryGirl- Life, Designs, and Devotions

  9. Calvary Girl -- YES!!! I love garlic granules because they are PURE 100% dried garlic, NO salt added! So that would cut back on your husband's salt intake, and just add pure garlic flavor!! it's great stuff!! ;-) Glad to help!

  10. I love the way you go about figuring these things out!

  11. ooh ooh, what a great idea Carrie, sounds delicious! I missed mac-n-cheese! I love your alternatives to favorite comfort foods! Thanks so much!

  12. Girl, you have been a busy poster this week! I'm trying to get caught up and read them all! This sounds wonderful too! I'll try it on my son and see what he thinks. I've tried some other fake cheese recipes and they were okay. I think yours sounds good with having both chickpeas and cashews. I made pizza for him one night and it had a topping of ground cashews. It's weird how that seems like cheese but it did!

  13. Carrie, thank you so much for you cheesy imposter recipe! I made it last night (well, actually, I changed it a bit to use what I had on hand and to make it appeal to my 7 year old who likes reeeeeaaaallly mild cheese) and it is a keeper! My 7 year old declared it fit for mac & cheese, so life is good! After I made it, I decided to make a big batch to freeze, so I put all the ingredients in the food processor except for the hemp milk (I used almond) and made a huge batch that I divided up and put in the freezer. I’m hoping it translates well after it thaws. Anyway, I thought you would like to know that we were doing a happy dance here last night because of you! J

  14. This sounds so awesome! I love your recipes :-D. I so want to try it, but just as an FYI, Lea and Perrins Worchestershire is not Soy Free (unfortunately!). I haven't found a soy free version yet...


  15. Lea -- thanks for commenting~! I am contacting Lea and Perrins now to see what the status is on the soy. It isn't listed on their ingredients or the label, so I'm not sure! Will let you know!

  16. I just found you through this recipe. I can't wait to try it and others you've posted. My sons are allergic to gluten, casein, and soy. My little guy also can't have tree nuts. I'm going to try this with chick peas in place of the cashews and suprise the boys with the mac n' cheese they've been craving for months.
    THANK YOU! :)

  17. Being cheese free for a while now, I've become more and more welcoming of fake cheese here and there. This does sound pretty tasty! I love that you made mac and cheese complete with hot dogs. That was my favorite meal when I was a kid - what a developed palate I had!

  18. I must admit I had my doubts, but this was really yummy! I cooked this with Green Kitchen Stories' No-Rice Risotto, replacing the mascarpone cheese, making it match the milder taste of mascarpone by omitting the worcestershire sauce. I'm excited to mix the different proportions to imitate different cheeses. Thanks so much!!
    p.s. did any of the other readers ever figure out if we could freeze this?

  19. Annette - thank you so much for commenting!! Sadly, I'm not sure this would freeze well.... as it doesn't seem to reheat well when I've tried. I'm so glad you liked the recipe though and that you were able to modify it based on your recipe needs! very cool!! :-)

  20. Carrie,

    Wow this was even better than I had imagined. Made a couple changes - didn't have hemp milk or garlic granules so I used fresh garlic and rice milk. It was, of course, way too thin so I added more cashews and garbanzos. Also, I used paprika instead of turmeric because I just hate the stuff. But the flavor, yum yum yum I licked the bowl! You nailed it girl! Thank you for posting.