I’ve shared samples of this luxurious yet light cashew cream with several friends and they all rave about it. I’m thrilled to share it with you today. We’ve eaten it on crackers, toast, and bagels; in tomato sandwiches instead of mayo; tossed with fresh spinach noodles; and even in lasagna instead of ricotta. It’s wonderful just by the spoonful too. Amazingly, the spread is mostly steamed eggplant, so it has fewer calories than pure cashew cream. Compared to the ricotta cheese and sour cream that it can replace, it also has fewer calories, less saturated fat, no cholesterol, plus more fiber, potassium, and iron. See the nutritional information below.
Make Light Cashew Cream in a Vitamix or other high-speed blender for the creamiest results, but it’s good made with a regular blender or food processor too. The eggplant brings another win by being naturally smoother than cashews when blended at a lower speed. At high speeds, it’s as smooth as smooth gets.
Recipe for Light Cashew Cream
Active time: 17 minutes. Total time: 17 minutes (or more with optional soaking for cashews). Makes 2 cups or 16 servings. Vegan and gluten free.
Cost: 31 cents per serving or $4.84 for the whole recipe, using organic ingredients
1 cup raw cashews
enough water to cover the cashews
1 medium globe eggplant (about 10 ounces or 280 grams)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, optionally with more for serving
Juice and zest from one lemon, optional
- Soak cashews one of three ways:
- Cover cashews with water overnight (best choice if you plan ahead)
- Put cashews in a microwave-safe container, cover them with water, and microwave on high for 2 minutes
- Put them in a heat-proof container and cover them with boiling water
- While cashews soften, peel and cube eggplant. (Save eggplant skin for another recipe. It’s loaded with nutrients.) Put eggplant cubes in a microwave-safe container, splash in a teaspoon or so of water, cover, and cook on high for 5 minutes until very tender. If you don’t want to use a microwave, put eggplant cubes in a steamer basket in a pot with a little water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and steam eggplant until tender, about 4 minutes.
- Put steamed eggplant, drained cashews and remaining ingredients in a Vitamix, blender, or food processor fitted with the stainless steel blade. Process on high until smooth (one minute for the Vitamix, other machines may take a little more time). Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Serve Light Cashew Cream at room temperature, chilled, or warm, sprinkled with extra smoked paprika if desired. Keeps refrigerated for five days. I haven’t tried freezing it yet.
- Use a fresh, firm eggplant. Older eggplants can turn bitter.
- To make this a two-for-one recipe, hold back on the lemon juice and zest until after the sauce is smooth. Dip out some of plain sauce into a container and then stir lemon juice and zest into the rest.
- Use a very sharp knife to safely and easily peel eggplant. My white ceramic knife from Kyocera has stayed sharp for years and is lighter than a steel knife. It’s my favorite gift from an International Association of Culinary Professionals conference.
- You could use slender Asian eggplants for this recipe, but that would mean more peeling.
Nutritional information (1 serving or 1/16 recipe):
Calories: 50. Percent of calories from fat: 63%, carbohydrates: 24%, protein: 14%.
Protein 2 grams (4% daily value), total fat: 4 grams (6%), cholesterol 0 grams, total carbohydrates 3 grams (1%), dietary fiber 1 gram (3%)
Calcium 5 mg (0%), iron 1 mg (3%), potassium 84 mg (2%), zinc trace (3%), Vitamin C trace (1%), Vitamin A 55 IU (1%), Vitamin B6 trace (2%), Thiamin B1 trace (3%), Riboflavin B2 trace (1%), Folacin 5 mcg (1%)