Basic Raw Cashew Cream

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Inspired by my favorite vegan Mexican restaurant in San Francisco, Gracias Madre, I give you vegan crema. I don’t pretend it is an eye-to-eye substitution of dairy cream, but this is creamy, nutty and delicious in it’s own way. If you shun dairy, are mindful of your health, or are willing to experiment, you must try this.

Cashew Cream is typically used in raw vegan desserts. The high-fat content of the cashews (the good, heart-healthy kind) makes it uber-creamy, and since raw cashews are quite tasteless it takes on spices and flavorings well. Cashews are a good-for-you food, and are high in minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, magnesium.

Use it as a thickener for soups, a base for dressing and sauces, cold or warm, raw or baked. Stir it into overnight soaked oats, top sauteed veggies or a baked fish (picture below), as a dipping sauce for roasted cauliflower, as a topping for rajas, drizzle tacos…

For the Mexican skeptics, this is similar to nogada sauce used for chiles en nogada. Once prepped, it keeps in fridge up to 4 days, can be frozen.

Basic Cashew Cream Ingredients: 1 cup raw cashews, water to cover 1/2 cup water (less or more depending on how thick you want it)

Rinse cashews under cold water. Place in a bowl or container and cover with water. Let sit and soak overnight (between 8 - 12 hours), or at least 3 hours. Drain and rinse well. Place in food processor or blender with 1/2 cup of water, and blend until very smooth, at least a full 2 minutes or more depending on the strength of your blender. Add seasonings (see below, and notes).

Yields up to 2 cups of cream

Chipotle Cashew Cream: 1 cup whole raw cashews, soaked overnight and prepared as above 1/2 cup water 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon salt 2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce, or 1 tablespoon chipotle powder optional: 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (reduce water)

Follow instructions as above, adding salt, chipotle, and lemon juice in blender. Taste, adjust seasoning.

Savory: 1/2 teaspoon of miso, lemon juice, powdered chipotle, dried or fresh herbs, garlic, avocado, dash of tamari or soy sauce, sriracha sauce, cider vinegar, wasabi, olives, capers, mustard/dijon Sweet: vanilla extract, pinch of stevia, honey, maple syrup, a few dates, vanilla extract, cinnamon, banana

Ezekiel toast, chipotle cashew cream, avocado, red pepper flakes

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Baked tilapia with a chile ancho sauce, roasted red peppers, topped with chipotle cashew cream

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Smoked salmon avocado rolls, arugula bed, drizzled with chipotle cashew cream

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