Friday, October 15, 2010

Creamy (vegan!) Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Sauce

Tonight, exhausted from a full day of babysitting and with the prospect of another several hours of babysitting after dinner, I was looking for a new recipe to try that would be simple. Simple, but delicious.  

There is a place in Boston called Veggie Planet, which has a dish with some sort of amazing roasted red pepper and nut sauce.  I had a bag of cashews, and a jar of roasted red peppers I've had forever.  And I have a food processor.  What resulted was a rich, creamy, and thick sauce - I had to refrain from eating up every last bite of it.  When I started making it, I wasn't sure yet how I wanted to use this sauce, but as I stood over the stove, stirring and thinking, I decided that it would be an excellent base for a pizza.  And oh, was it ever.  But this sauce is so versatile that you could use it for all kinds of other things.  With pasta, on a sandwich - so many ways!  (See below for suggestions.)  So give it a try - it's vegan and gluten-free and full of flavor.  You'll love it.

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Sauce

3 roasted red peppers
1/3 cup unsalted or lightly salted cashew nuts (I used the "50% less salt" kind from Trader Joe's)
1/4 - 1/2 cup almond milk (depending on how thick you want your sauce)
1 tsp. minced/crushed garlic
1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (or to taste)
dash of cayenne pepper (optional; to taste)
dash of black pepper 
1 tsp. agave nectar OR 1 tsp. sugar 
1/4 tsp. lemon juice

In a food processor, combine the roasted red peppers and cashews and process on highest setting.  After about 1 minute, add 1/4 cup of almond milk and continue to process until it is very smooth.  

Put the processed mixture into a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat.  Add more almond milk if desired, the salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, and lemon juice and heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until the mixture becomes as thick as you want it to be. Tweak the spices as you stir to your own taste - the recipe above is just an approximation!  When you are happy with the taste and consistency, remove from heat.  Use immediately (see below) or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Ways to use this sauce:
-as a pasta sauce or (if you let it get thick enough) as a pesto to toss with angel hair pasta
-spoon hot over sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and brown rice
-spread over chicken and bake in the oven, covered OR spread over grilled chicken
-as a sandwich spread (would complement pesto extremely well)
-as a dip for crackers or pretzels (gluten-free, of course)
-as a delicious replacement for regular pizza sauce (see picture below!) with your favorite toppings (I sauteed a Spicy Jalapeno chicken sausage from Trader Joe's and topped two corn tortillas with a layer of the roasted red pepper sauce, the sausage, and then Daiya vegan cheese, and it was phenomenally good, and extremely fast)
Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Pizza


Laura said...

Just wanted to say I used this as a pizza sauce for an absolutely amazing vegan pie. Rolled out a store bought crust, used the sauce, then topped with with mushrooms, marinated artichokes, and home-made vegan pepperoni. Absolutely five stars!

Claire Berman said...

Hi Laura!

I am so glad to hear that you loved this so much! It's definitely one of my favorites. The vegan pie sounds amazing, and I think I'll have to try out that combination of flavors myself soon :)

Take care,