Those who know me well, know that I am the last person to ever self-identify as a vegan. I consider myself a huntress after all, and enjoy eating high-quality meat from happy animals.
However, I also really enjoy vegan foods and vegan recipes. Part of this is because when you eat vegan, you don’t have to worry about consuming dairy.
I touched briefly on my problems with dairy in my post about my explorations into a paleo-ketogenic style of eating, but just to elaborate a bit…
Dairy, specifically ice cream, has been one of my biggest vice foods my entire life. Ice cream was actually the very first food I ate (that wasn’t breastmilk), at the ripe age of 3-days old. Oh how things were different in the 80’s! Dairy is so intricately woven into the fabric of my childhood, that it has been the hardest thing for me to give up, even though it is my most allergenic and addictive food.
It’s obvious to me now, but wasn’t so clear to my parents at the time, but I had (and still have) a dairy allergy as a kid. I was clearly addicted to it; my parents and my sisters can all attest to the tantrums I would throw if there was no ice cream in the house. Then there were the endless coughing fits I would fall into after finishing a big-ass bowl of said ice cream, which left me at the doctors with my mom seeking an inhaler. As a teen and adult, dairy also left me with incredibly terrible face, back and chest acne, which even hormonal birth control couldn’t even tame.
And I think dairy has been really hard for a lot of vegans to give up as well, which is why over the years many of them have become extremely creative in developing new recipes or foods that mimic the tastes, textures and satisfaction of the creamy goodness. Especially when it comes to cheese!
A few weeks ago I had a divine download. Something from the ethers was telling me that roasted yellow peppers could magically be transformed into a delicious dairy-free cheese sauce. I tried to forget about this little message from the heavens, but with a pending night out with my Vision Ladies, I couldn’t ignore this little voice much longer. This magical group of women, who I meet with once a month to share stories and eat delicious food with, has a few dietary restrictions, so this upcoming gathering would be the perfect excuse to test my roasted yellow pepper theory.
Whoa Nelly! Thank you universe for the divine message from above, because this recipe was a hit right out of the gate! I decided to make the sauce into a dairy-free vegan queso dip, and serve it with gluten-free corn chips. I’ve since made this same recipe again, the second time for a taco-themed potluck, and it was met both times with raving reviews! One of my dairy-free, gluten-free friends said it tasted just like real cheese! Hell, even Erik, my boyfriend licked the bowl clean, and he’s an Italian-born cheese lover.
So because I can empathize with a cheese-loving, dairy-allergic person, it is my duty to share this recipe with you so you can go forth and eat all the queso “cheeses” both pain-free and guilt-free!
- 3 large sweet yellow bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/5 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- dash of chipotle powder
- 3-4 tablespoons arrowroot powder (optional)
- 3-4 tablespoons coconut milk (optional)
- Set oven to broil on high. Rub the peppers down with the avocado oil, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the top rack, close to the broil element. Roast the peppers until the skin turns black. You will need to rotate the peppers every couple of minutes so that each side blackens evenly.
- Remove the peppers from the oven, and carefully begin to remove the skins. I do this by first cutting into them while they are still on the pan, and draining out the water that accumulates inside. This keeps all the excess liquid in the pan, and prevents it from spilling all over the counter if you were to do this on the cutting board. You'll also want to be really careful not to burn your hands as the peppers can be like little hot water and steam bombs!
- Throw the roasted pepper flesh, with the skins removed, into a high powered blender. Add the nutritional yeast, coconut milk, lemon juice, salt, and spices. Whir the blender on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- If you want a thicker queso dip, then transfer the mixture to a medium-sized sauce pan. Over low heat, bring to a gentle simmer. Take your 3-4 Tbsp of arrowroot powder and add it to a measuring cup with the 3-4 Tbsp of coconut milk, and whisk until incorporated and there are no lumps. While the queso mixture is simmering, drizzle in the arrowroot powder/coconut slurry a little at a time, stirring to combine. Stir the queso for 1-2 minutes and monitor it's thickness. Continue to add the slurry and stirring the queso until desired consistency is reached.
- Sprinkle with extra chipotle or paprika, and serve with your chip of choice!
- I served mine within a few hours of making it, while it was still warm, however, I did have left overs which kept in the fridge for a couple of days. I found that the queso thickened even further once it cooled in the fridge.