Creamy Vegan Sauce
June 18, 2015 8:41 AM   Subscribe

I love Veganaise and when its in the kitchen I'll use it as a sour cream/crema sub in lentils, tacos etc. What is a tasty, creamy sauce I can make that is a bit healthier and doesn't cost so much?

Besides vinaigrette the main dressing/sauce I make is creamy lemon tahini, sometimes with roasted garlic. That's a great on salads and some bean dishes and pretty cheap but doesn't work with some dishes.

I'm completely willing to look outside the box. The main purpose of the sauce is to add strong tangy flavor and fat to staple meals. I just think I'm taking it too far with the veganaise, as the small size jar only lasts 2 weeks for one person.

Vegan but processed stuff and gluten are fine, as is honey.
posted by kittensofthenight to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if it's either cheaper or healthier, but I've used cashew cream in place of bechamel or other creamy sauces in vegan recipes. It's super creamy and delicious, and there are lots of possible variations. Isa Chandra Moskowitz has a recipe for cashew queso that looks worth trying.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:51 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

You should check out the book Salad Samurai. It's chock full of delicious vegan salad recipes, and there is a separate dressing section so you can mix and match the dressings to the salads. I'm not even vegan, and I've loved everything I've made from the book so far.

Here's a sample recipe:

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

1/2 cup unroasted cashews
3/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tsp white miso
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 japlapeno pepper, roasted

Soak the cashews in hot water for 30 minutes or overnight. Pour cashews and water into a blender and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Chill dressing for at least 20 minutes. Store and use within 2 days.

posted by rivtintin at 8:51 AM on June 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Have you considered cashew cream, made tangy by the addition of some apple cider vinegar? Lord knows raw cashews aren't cheap either, but if you buy enough of them in bulk, they live in the freezer practically forever.

Ever since I discovered lemon tahini sauce, I just want to eat it on everything.
posted by Kitteh at 8:54 AM on June 18, 2015

Have you discovered soy yogurt already?

Also, although it's expensive, soy sour cream exists.
posted by amtho at 8:58 AM on June 18, 2015

As a store-bought alternate to Veganaise, Just Mayo (which is a stupid name because it's NOT mayo, it's "just" emulsified oil) tastes exactly like mayo and a bigger jar is the same price as the little Veganaise jar.

Kenji Lopez-Alt's Best Vegan Nacho Cheese sauce uses an oil and cashew base that you could modify for other uses.

Vegan skordalia (Greek garlic sauce). Similarly, vegan toum (I'm going to make this today, I hadn't seen this recipe before and I make toum with egg all the time).
posted by Lyn Never at 9:07 AM on June 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

This spreadable tofu-based vegan dip is great on sandwiches as is this smoked paprika chipotle sauce. Either can be thinned with lemon juice for a more traditional dressing, but both work in a variety of contexts.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:18 AM on June 18, 2015

Best answer: I have a pretty strong medical reason to avoid refined oils and fats (thanks, Crohn's), so I rarely get to use things like Veganaise. Instead, I usually make sauces from a bean or grain paste.

In some ways, this is sort of like making hummous, but without the huge volumes of oil commercial brands usually use. It's so good on its own made without oil that my family prefers it homemade this way now (which was a surprise). A standard:

1 can chickpeas (drained)
2 cloves garlic (raw or roasted)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon tamari
3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
(salt, pepper, spices to taste; works great with cilantro and jalapenos thrown in)

Puree, refrigerate.

Taking that as a starting point, you can make an impressive spread with almost any cooked bean and some grains. I've got a tub of white bean (cannelini) and basil spread in the fridge now, made along the lines of the above. My youngest loves it when I make lentil spread, since I make it with caramelized onions and mushrooms and it turns into this dark, umami paste that can be thinned out really easily and used as a drizzle on top of everything from corn on the cob to sandwiches to soups. I'll sometimes use leftover cooked rice as a base and puree it along with some broth and seasonings. Heck, I've even used crusty, stale bread as a base in the same way.

I've also made a spread out of potatoes + mirepoix + a bit of miso (omg the country miso from Aedan is the best for making sauces) that was a hit last thanksgiving. We used it in place of gravy on mashed taters. When making spreads out of starchy vegetables, you can always thicken the final product a bit by cooking over low heat with a bit of cornstarch or a thickener of your choosing.

Lastly, nut purees work as a great base, too. Others have mentioned cashew cream and the like, but you can puree almost any nut with a bit of water, broth, or other liquid + spices and, boom, magical fatty spread. You should give kale butter a try:

1 bunch kale, rinsed
1/2 cup walnuts (lightly toasted if you like)
1/2 cup water
(salt, pepper, etc.)

Steam the kale for a few minutes, then puree with all the remaining ingredients. This stuff stores pretty well in the fridge if it's well-sealed. And it is sooo good. We make it with lots of cumin and coriander and, usually, some green onion or roasted garlic. The middle kid likes adding in some sunflower seeds to the mix before pureeing.

Experiment with these recipes, and the recipes that other people are sharing. It's pretty easy to get a quick feel for how to make spreads and sauces, then let your imagination and seasonal produce guide you.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:26 AM on June 18, 2015 [12 favorites]

The nutritional yeast based sauce in this recipe is surprisingly tasty, creamy, and cheese-like, as well as being more affordable than most nut-based sauces.
posted by metasarah at 9:44 AM on June 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use Trader Joe's endamame hummus as a mayo substitute. I think it tastes better, it's creamy.
posted by answergrape at 9:51 AM on June 18, 2015

Also think about Amy's Goddess dressing. I think it's tahini-based. Delicious.
posted by answergrape at 9:52 AM on June 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Onion cream came up in this thread about vegan risotto. Even as an omnivore I'm intrigued.

I made my own cream of sorts once with roasted walnuts and red peppers. Pretty sure the peppers were raw. I was improvising, but I basically made a variation of romesco.

The Food Lab did a write-up on vegan mayo if you want to make your own. The silken tofu didn't work for me for some reason, but using soy milk in this recipe did.
posted by O9scar at 10:25 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

You can definitely make vegan mayonnaise from scratch. It's been a few years so I don't have a recipe to recommend, but I recall using almond milk (also easy to make; I just don't like soy), some vinegar, and olive oil. Maybe some sweetener would make it more Veganaise-y?
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:40 AM on June 18, 2015

The Saucy Vegetarian might give you some ideas.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:59 AM on June 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

The reduced-fat mayo at Trader Joe's is accidentally vegan, 35 calories per tablespoon, and only $2.99 for a huge 32 ounce jar.
posted by QuakerMel at 2:22 PM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Tahini dressing! It's so flexible. Add more or less garlic, more or less lemon juice, fresh herbs, Sriracha sauce, etc.
posted by dmvs at 11:35 PM on June 21, 2015

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