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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