Sometimes I can’t even believe how the Universe works. I met Annie from An Unrefined Vegan over the internet several years ago through the vegan blogosphere. We became fast online friends during a strange series of serendipitous events. Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to meet in real life many times. We’ve helped each other through hardships and celebrated each other’s joys.
When Annie got her publishing contract through the Cedar Fort Publishing, a publishing company with Mormon roots and based in a town I used to live in, I thought things couldn’t get any more unexpectedly surrealistic. I’m convinced more than ever in fact that fate has gifted us both with this friendship.
During the last few years I’ve had the sweet opportunity of watching Annie climb her way up the ladder to a seriously professional photographer and recipe creator. She’s passionate about her work and it speaks for itself. Crave, Eat, Heal is definitely one of the most beautiful, well photographed and planned out vegan cookbooks to date.
Green Matcha and Herb Shortbread
I was lucky enough to be involved in the recipe testing for this cookbook. The recipes are wholesome, with unrefined ingredients and lots of yummy flavors. Most of the recipes in the book are gluten-free to boot.
In a completely new and unique format, the recipes in this book are divided into chapters by cravings: carbs, chocolate, comfort, cool, creamy, crunchy, green, junk, salty, spicy, sweet, tart and warm.
Of all the recipes I tested however, the butternut squash queso was my absolute favorite, plus this base recipe serves as the cheddar cheez, which is absolutely divine.
This recipe was inspired by an appetizer at Matthew Kenney’s now-defunct “plant-based Mexican kitchen,” Tamazul, in Oklahoma City. While everything I’ve eaten there has been delicious, fresh, and creative – their queso impressed me more than any other dish. I was too shy to ask how they made it, so I set about creating my own version.
This also makes a delicious sauce for mac ’n’ cheez.
Gluten-free, Oil-free, Easy
BUTTERNUT SQUASH QUESO
Makes ~2 cups
- 2 cups roasted* butternut squash
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 8-12 hours, rinsed and drained
- 1 Tbsp. white miso paste
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp. dried onion flakes
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric
- Water, as needed
Add all of the ingredients to a high-speed or regular blender and process until very smooth. You will need to tamp down the ingredients and add water – just a little at a time – during processing to get a very smooth texture.
Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and gently heat. Serve warm with baked tortilla chips or fresh steamed vegetables. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Suggestions: Try using pumpkin puree or roasted sweet potato in place of the butternut squash. Reserve 1 cup of the queso to make Cheddar Cheez (see recipe on page XX). If you like it spicy, stir in a 1/4 cup of fresh, diced jalapeño peppers (or pickled jalapeños) – or for milder flavor – stir in a 1/4 cup of roasted red bell pepper. *Here’s how I roast a butternut squash: Preheat the oven to 425-degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut off the squash’s stem and pierce the skin a few times with a knife. Place the whole squash on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flesh of the squash is very soft (I test it by inserting a knife). The skin will be shiny and dark brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before handling. Peel off the skin, then break open the squash and scoop out the seeds.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Ann Oliverio and Front Table Books.
Visit Annie Oliverio at her blog: An Unrefined Vegan
Purchase your own copy of Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-based, Whole-food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite. The book is available for pre-order now and will be released early in May.
Or, for a chance to win a copy of Crave Eat Heal, simply leave a comment on this post below. Two winners will be chosen, one winner for the US and Canada will receive a hardcopy of the book, and one International winner will receive an electronic copy of the book. The winners will be chosen at random on April 30th! Good luck! <3