Are you a fan of the classic cheesy dip known as queso? Well, get ready to be amazed because we have a vegan twist that is not only creamy and delicious but also incredibly healthy. Say hello to Eggplant Queso, a plant-based version of the beloved dip that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more.
In this article, we will dive into the origins of queso, the inspiration behind our eggplant-based recipe, and the step-by-step process of making this delectable vegan queso. So, grab your tortilla chips and get ready to indulge in the goodness of Eggplant Queso!
Origins of Queso
Queso, also known as chile con queso, is a melty, cheesy dip that is traditionally served with tortilla chips. It is believed to have originated in Texas in the early 1900s, where it quickly became a beloved Tex-Mex staple. However, it is important to note that the queso found in Mexican restaurants in the US is quite different from the authentic Mexican queso fundido, which is made with soft white cheeses. The Tex-Mex version of queso is typically made with processed American cheeses, giving it a unique flavor and texture. To learn more about the history and differences between the two, check out this informative article on Eater.
The Inspiration: Eggplant, the Creamy Alternative
When it comes to creating a vegan version of queso, there are various approaches, including using cashews as a base. While cashew-based vegan cheese is delicious, it can be quite heavy in calories and fat. That’s where our midnight revelation comes in – eggplant! Yes, you heard it right. Eggplant, with its creamy and neutral flavor, serves as the perfect base for our vegan queso.
The Creamy Magic of Roasted Eggplant
Before we delve into the recipe, let’s talk about the magic of roasted eggplant. Eggplant is an incredibly versatile vegetable that takes on a creamy texture when roasted. It can be used in various dishes, including pastas, baba ganoush, and even sandwiches. The creaminess of baba ganoush inspired us to experiment with eggplant as the base for our vegan queso – and the results were astounding.
To start, we slice the eggplant into thin rounds and broil them until tender and golden brown. This cooking method helps draw out any bitterness and moisture, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture. Once the eggplant is roasted, we remove the skin and blend it with almond milk, nutritional yeast, and a medley of spices. The result? A velvety and flavorful queso that is sure to impress even the most discerning taste buds.
The Recipe: Cashew-Less Vegan Queso
Now, let’s dive into the recipe for our Cashew-Less Vegan Queso. Here are the ingredients you will
- Eggplant 7-9 rounds
- Olive oil As needed
- Sea salt As needed
- Almond milk 1 ½ – 2 cups
- Nutritional yeast 2-3 Tbsp
- Garlic 1/4 tsp
- Cumin1 tsp
- Chili powder 1 tsp
- Cornstarch2 tsp
- Chunky salsa 1/4 cup
- Slice the eggplant into thin rounds and sprinkle with sea salt. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to draw out moisture and bitterness. Rinse with cool water and pat dry.
- Preheat the oven to high broil and arrange the eggplant rounds on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Broil for 4-5 minutes on each side, until tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let steam in foil.
- Unwrap the eggplant and peel off the skin. Place the eggplant in a blender with almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and cornstarch. Blend until smooth and creamy, adjusting the seasonings to taste.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add the chunky salsa and stir to combine.
- Serve the queso with your favorite chips, crackers, or veggies. It can be kept warm in a mini crockpot or over a tea light warmer. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
The Taste: Creamy, Cheesy, and Irresistible
Now, let’s talk about the taste of this Cashew-Less Vegan Queso. Prepare to be amazed by its creamy, velvety texture and rich, cheesy flavor. The combination of roasted eggplant, almond milk, and nutritional yeast creates a queso that is remarkably close to the real thing. The addition of cumin and chili powder adds a subtle heat, making it the perfect companion for your favorite chips or veggies. This dip is not only delicious but also incredibly versatile – it can be poured over nachos, used as a topping for tacos, or even spread on sandwiches for an extra burst of flavor.
Health Benefits: A Lighter and Nutrient-Packed Alternative
One of the greatest advantages of this Cashew-Less Vegan Queso is its health benefits. Unlike traditional queso, which is often high in calories and fat, our vegan version is significantly lighter. It contains only 55 calories and 3.5 grams of healthy fat per serving. Additionally, it is free from cashews, soy, dairy, and gluten, making it suitable for those with dietary restrictions or allergies. The use of eggplant as the base provides a myriad of nutrients, including fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, making this queso not only delicious but also nourishing for your body.
Serving Suggestions: Take Your Dishes to the Next Level
Now that you have your homemade Cashew-Less Vegan Queso ready, let’s explore some exciting ways to incorporate it into your favorite dishes. Here are a few serving suggestions:
- Nachos: Pour the queso over a bed of tortilla chips, and top with your favorite toppings such as diced tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro.
- Tacos: Use the queso as a creamy and cheesy topping for your tacos. It pairs exceptionally well with grilled vegetables, black beans, and avocado.
- Stuffed Bell Peppers: Fill bell peppers with a mixture of quinoa, black beans, and corn, and top with a generous drizzle of queso before baking until tender.
- Quesadillas: Spread the queso onto tortillas, add your desired fillings such as sautéed veggies or plant-based proteins, fold in half, and cook until golden brown and melty.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to incorporating this Cashew-Less Vegan Queso into your meals. Get creative and let your taste buds guide you!