Butternut Squash Queso

 
 This plant-based queso is rich in texture and flavor. It's the perfect addition to your favorite nachos, delicious drizzled over roasted vegetables, on top of tacos, or blended into  spicy enchilada sauce. All the add-ins - the dijon mustard, garlic, cumin, and hot pepper - can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes. Each offers its own unique element to the final product, so try not to skimp too much.

This plant-based queso is rich in texture and flavor. It's the perfect addition to your favorite nachos, delicious drizzled over roasted vegetables, on top of tacos, or blended into  spicy enchilada sauce. All the add-ins - the dijon mustard, garlic, cumin, and hot pepper - can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes. Each offers its own unique element to the final product, so try not to skimp too much.

Adapted from The First Mess

| Yield: about 3 cups | Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes | 

 
 

 
 

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash

3 tablespoon olive oil

salt + pepper

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 jalapeño, fine chopped (use seeds if you like it hot)

2 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ cup of raw cashews soaked for at least 2 hours

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 ½ tablespoon nutritional yeast

2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce

½ teaspoon light miso

vegetable stock (to get the blender going)

squeeze of lime juice

¼ cup minced pickled jalapeños

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Cut the squash down the middle, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Rub the inner flesh of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place squash halves, cut side down, onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Slide the tray into the oven and roast until squash is tender when pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes.

While squash roasts, heat a small pan over medium heat. Pour in remaining olive oil and add the chopped shallots. Cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the diced jalapeño and cumin to the pan and stir. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are very soft and have taken on a sort of dry-paste consistency, about 7-10 minutes, lowering heat if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Scoop the cooked, slightly cooled squash flesh into a blender pitcher. You can compost the peels. To the blender, add the soaked cashews, garlic, nutritional yeast, dijon, tamari, miso, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add enough vegetable stock to the blender to get everything moving.

Gradually bring the blender speed to high and blend the mixture until you have a smooth purée. Add the sauteed mixture of shallots and jalapeño to the blender and blend mixture until smooth again. Taste the queso at this point and re-season, add lime juice, jalapeño brine, salt or pepper to your liking. You can also add vegetable stock and olive oil to achieve your desired viscosity - a combination of the two helps this cheese maintain its lush texture.

To serve, heat the queso in a small saucepan over medium. Pour it over your favorite nachos, roasted vegetables, serve with pasta, or any other way you please.

 
 

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