Basic Vegan Sushi

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

From San Diego to Iowa

Are you intimidated by the thought of making your own sushi? I sure was! And to think, this whole time I could be enjoying it on a weekly or even twice-weekly basis, but I was held back by fear.

I’ve lived all over the United States before landing here in the middle of Iowa. For the majority of my life I lived in San Diego, and sushi was a staple of my weekly diet. My friends and I used to love meeting up for sushi and sake at one of the many fantastic fresh sushi restaurants all over town.

But even moving to the Midwest, I was still able to enjoy some fantastic sushi. Fresh fish was flown in on a daily basis to Omaha, NE, where we lived before coming to Iowa.However, life got more expensive with the addition of kids, and sushi seemed less and less like a reasonable dinner solution except for anniversary dinners or birthday.

Finally, I went plant-based, and have dedicated myself to living a more sustainable and frugal life. Sadly, sushi has finally been cut out altogether. 

But I love it so much! And since I’m on a quest to learn how to make my favorite foods at home and vegan/oil free, I decided to take the plunge and try sushi. 

Readers, it is so easy. And so delicious!

Raw Fish Sushi: Sustainable or Not?

Being plant-based now, and trying to live a frugal, sustainable life, I’ve had to rethink everything that I used to consume without so much as a second thought. And sushi is definitely one of those things. From the cost aspect of dining out to the impact of overfishing on the environment, it was definitely something I had to cut out of my life.  

So why did it take me so long to try making vegan sushi myself? I think a part of me was intimidated by the process, and I was worried it would never live up to the experience of eating it professionally made. I have definitely held myself back in the past simply from fear of the unknown, and fear of failure. But if the past few years of growth and adventure have taught me anything, it’s that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to if I let go of that fear and embrace the adventure.

Easy on the Budget

Now, I’ve had some really great sushi in my life. And nothing will replace the experience and flavor of eating sushi made by a true master sushi chef. But these days I can’t afford to go out to eat more than once or twice a year, and besides, it’s WAY cheaper to cook at home from scratch. So I decided to give it a try.

And readers. Oh my gosh.

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

The Basic Set-Up

Ever since, I have basically been eating sushi like I used to eat sandwiches. It is that easy to pull together. And it can be as complex or as simple as you want. Below is a picture of all the basic things you need in order to make a simple roll.

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon
  • Nori
  • Sushi Rice
  • Sushi Mat
  • Small Bowl of Water
  • Ingredients (such as veggies and a healthy fat like avocado)
  • Sharp Knife

That’s really all you need! Below I’ll discuss each ingredient more in depth, and provide links to the products I enjoy the most, whenever appropriate. Then I will go over the basic steps to completing a roll, and finally I’ll discuss some variations you can explore once you’ve mastered this basic roll. Finally, a printable recipe will be at the bottom of this post. 

The Basic Ingredients

Nori

These are very thin sheets of toasted seaweed and usually come in a pack of 10. Prices can vary quite a bit, so pick whichever fits your budget best. However, if you can find and afford hand harvested seaweed you will be helping sustain the ecosystem that seaweed supports. Nori sheets can be found in the Asian section of most standard grocery stores, but if you have the time I urge you to use this as an opportunity to explore your local Asian market and support small business owners. 

When making sushi, be sure to lay the smooth side away from the rice. In the case of this roll, the smooth side is down and the textured side is up. We will apply the rice to the textured side. 

Sushi Rice

The word “sushi” actually means “sour rice” in Japanese, and refers to the way the rice is made with vinegar. There are other words for the kinds of rolls you might see at a sushi restaurant, such as nigiri for the piece of raw fish without rice, or maki (makizushi) for the fish and rice roll contained inside a sheet of dried seaweed. We will be making the maki style roll with this recipe. For the rice, you can choose white or brown, and add some rice vinegar to create the sticky, sour taste and texture that signifies sushi. I prefer brown rice myself. I like the nutty flavor it gives the sushi. I have seen other recipes that use different kinds of rice-like grain. You should definitely experiment to find what you like best. Just either take the cooked cold grain and heat it in the microwave until soft and warm with the sushi vinegar, or add the vinegar to cooked fresh warm rice. If you do heat it in the microwave, be sure to let it cool down some before applying to your sheet of nori, it will make the nori curl and possibly tear. 

I have been using the Marukan brand of seasoned rice vinegar and I like it a lot. It can seem overpowering when you first smell it or put it on your rice, but it really isn’t that intense once you complete your roll. 

This is another area of the process where you can experiment as much as your budget and your access to grocery variety allows. We have a few health food stores in town but not many, and not always with the kinds of options larger cities might have. 

Gently spread your rice as thinly as possible on the textured side of your nori. If you lay it on too thickly, the rice flavor will dilute the flavor of your other ingredients. I find that brown rice tends to be denser and fluffier than white rice, and I have spread it even more thinly and carefully than white rice. Always leave a strip of bare nori at the bottom. That is the flap you will use to seal your roll closed. 

Sushi Mat

This is the sheet of bamboo sticks and cotton twine that you lay under your roll as you prepare it. Then you use the mat to roll everything up neat and tight. It’s not strictly required, but most mats cost $2 or $5 at any grocery store, and it really does make the whole process nice and smooth and even. Many sites will suggest you put your mat inside a plastic baggie so it’s easier to clean. Honestly, that seems very wasteful to me. And the last thing I want is more waste just for the sake of convenience! If food gets stuck between the slats I just gently pull them apart and use a bristle brush with soap and warm water. It comes clean just as nicely as a wooden spoon would. I also find that it works better without the plastic bag. 

Small Bowl of Water

You will use this to wet your fingertips after your roll is nearly complete. You then slide your wet fingertips along the bare strip of nori you left at the end closest to you. You finish rolling and leave the roll aside to rest a short time so everything seals up nicely. 

Ingredients

This is mostly up to you! I have found the simplest ingredients I can add that are still enjoyable are avocado and cucumber. But you could even do a simple cucumber roll without the avocado. You can also add as many ingredients as you want. I’ve added carrot peel, cilantro, red bell, and peeled sweet potato fries. Basically whatever I had lying around. It was all delicious. As long as you use long, thin strips, it will work. Once you’ve mastered the basics, there are really hundreds of ways you can experiment with this.

I do tend to purchase large cucumbers for this project, and am left with a lot of cucumber if I’m only making two rolls for my lunch. I have a long snapware container I can keep the remainder in, but I like to use it up within the next day, or two at the most. I love to chop up the rest of the cucumber and enjoy with my Vegan Cashew Ranch Dressing, made as a dip with carrots and celery too. It’s an easy way to use up some of those fresh ingredients you have lying around your refrigerator. 

Sharp Knife

Finally, be sure to use a sharp knife or you will have trouble cutting your sushi. Getting a basic knife sharpener is definitely on my list of best kitchen tools. With as many veggies as I chop these days, I have to sharpen my knives once a week or it’s like trying to cut a carrot with a spoon handle. Even if, like me, you aren’t able to invest in a really nice set of knives, you can keep them working hard for you by making sure you sharpen them. 

With my knife, I find small back and forth sawing motions work best. After cutting, I usually move the two end pieces first and then the entire rest of the roll together. 

Other Tools and Ingredients

  • A rice paddle. I absolutely love mine, and I use it all the time. I have a scoop and paddle set and I can’t even remember where I got it. I think it may have come with a wok I bought a decade ago. The paddle is great for making your sushi nice and smooth.
  • A sushi plate and soy sauce bowl. I got my set at Cost Plus World Market. It was very inexpensive and very colorful. There are thousands of options for these, but of course you don’t need a special plate or bowl. You can easily use what you already have. I have found that the soy sauce bowl size and shape is excellent for getting a nice even dip without having the squeeze the piece, which causes rice loss. And it is always just the right amount of sauce for two rolls. 
  • Soy sauce. I prefer low sodium Tamari, but you can use whatever you prefer. I’ve read that Bragg’s liquid aminos would also work but I haven’t tried it yet.
  • Wasabi. I was surprised to learn that you buy wasabi as a powder and then mix it fresh as you go. I think I was epxecting something in the refrigerator section the first time I tried to buy it. Watch out for ingredients. There are many wasabi powders that include high fructose corn syrup (why?! WHY?!) and other completely unnecessary ingredients. After trying a few brands, I’ve settled on Beaver Extra Hot Wasabi Powder. It gives me the best restaurant-style experience and only contains a few simple, natural ingredients. The link to the right is priced for a case. I couldn’t find it sold individually on Amazon. I don’t expect anyone to buy a case, but I included the link so you could see what the package looks like. 
  • Pickled Ginger. I purchased some pickled ginger when I first started but I haven’t even opened it yet. I do eat it when I dine at a sushi restaurant, but it just hasn’t seemed necessary to me so far. 
  • Chopsticks! I had purchased a set of stainless steel travel silverware that came with a set of chopsticks, so I was good there. However, I have since bought some additional stainless steel chopsticks that are my permanent home set, so I don’t have to remember to get my chopsticks back into my purse set. Most disposable chopsticks are made of paper and wood, but if you can I suggest getting a permanent set. Trees died in the process of making them, and it’s just not necessary with a little forethought. That’s why I made sure the travel set I purchased included chopsticks. I bought my home set from Cost Plus World Market when I purchase the plate and soy sauce bowl, and they were extremely affordable and very durable. 

Step by Step (in pictures)

Step 1

Place a single sheet of nori, smooth side down, on your workspace. Gently spread out a thin layer of rice across most of the textured side of the sheet, leaving a bare strip at the edge closest to you.

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

Step 2

Place your ingredients in a thin layer across the width of your nori and rice. Pieced items like avocado should be kept towards the middle. When you roll it they push out to the ends. 

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

Step 3

Roll one end of the nori forward towards you so that it covers your ingredients. I sometimes have to push some of the ingredients back in. Especially the avocado. It’s usually the troublemaker of the roll. Push down gently where the edge of the nori first meets the rice, to ensure good contact. Then roll the whole thing forward once until it’s nearly at the bare strip. 

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

Step 4

Dip your fingers into the small bowl of water and then run your fingertips across the bare strip, making sure it gets thoroughtly dampened. 

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

Step 5

Roll everything forward toward you until the dampened edge is now at the bottom of your roll. 

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

Step 6

Move the roll to a place, keeping the seal at the bottom, and let it sit a short while. Imake another roll at this point, and ultimately make three rolls total even though I usually only eat two rolls at most at one time. Then I have the third later for just a little more sushi. However, don’t refrigerate your extra roll or your rice will dry out and it won’t be very pleasant at all. 

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

Step 7

At this point, I make some wasabi using wasabi powder and water, and I pour out my tamari sauce into my soy sauce bowl. I then cut one or two of the rolls and arrange them onto my place. I have two chopsticks pictures but I honestly only use one to apply the wasabi, and then my fingers to dip the piece into tamari and eat it. Whatever floats your sushi boat. 

Vegan, Plant Based Basic Sushi Recipe from Vera Lyndon

And That’s All!

It really comes together in about the same time as a sandwich, once you get used to cutting and rolling everything. 

I would LOVE to hear how your experiments go with this recipe! 

Basic Vegan Maki Sushi Roll

Learn the basic steps and essential ingredients for making a delicious classic maki style sushi roll using all vegan ingredients!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Resting Time2 mins
Course: dinner, lunch, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese, Plant Based, Vegan
Keyword: basic, dairy free, maki, plant based, rice, skill building, step by step, sushi, vegetables, whole food
Servings: 1 roll
Author: Vera Lyndon

Equipment

  • Sushi Rolling Mat
  • Rice Paddle

Ingredients

  • 2 c rice white or brown rice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 sheet nori
  • 1 long cucumber cut into long, thin strips
  • 1 medium avocado seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce tamari, soy, or Bragg's aminos are all options
  • 1 tsp wasabi powder
  • 1 tsp water to mix with the wasabi powder

Instructions

  • Mix two cups of warm rice with 1 tbsp of rice vinegar. You can either use freshly cooked warm rice, or heat cold rice in the microwave with the vinegar until it's soft and damp. If using cold rice, be sure to let it cool a bit after heating or it will shrivel and tear your nor sheet.
  • Lay one sheet of nori smooth side down on your rolling mat so that the textured side is facing you. Gently spread a thin layer of rice over the textured side of your nori, leaving a bare empty strip along the bottom width of the sheet.
  • Add your cucumber and avocado, or any other ingredients you decide to use, in a thin strip along the width of the sheet.
  • Roll the top edge of your nori sheet down over your ingredients, tucking any of it in that might try to escape. Press gently down along the length of the roll to tighten the ingredients together, then roll the nori down again until almost over the bare strip.
  • Wet your fingertips, and then run them along the bare strip of nori until it is thoroughly damp.
  • Roll your sushi roll down all the way so that the bulk of the roll is over the dampened strip of bare nori. Move it to a place where it can rest and the bare strip and can seal the roll together.
  • When ready, carefully slice the roll into approximately 1/2" wide pieces.
  • Mix the tsp of water with the wasabi powder as per container instructions to create your wasabi paste, if desired.
  • Serve sushi with wasabi paste and preferred soy sauce.

Notes

Do not refrigerate your rolls. The rice will dry out. Serve immediately after slicing. I enjoy putting a little bit of wasabi paste on each roll and dipping it into the soy sauce.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING I RECEIVE A COMMISSION FOR PURCHASES MADE THROUGH THESE LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

Vegan Cashew Ranch Dressing Recipe

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Ranch Dressing from Vera Lyndon

A Classic Favorite

Let’s face it. It’s hard being plant-based in our modern dairy- and meat-obsessed world. One thing I’ve struggled with in my plant-based journey is the craving for comforting favorites, and I have a hard time feeling satisfied with a dressing that isn’t creamy. I LOVED ranch dressing. It was my favorite dressing, and it helped me get more vegetables into my husband, too. So when I turned plant-based and dedicated myself to cooking from scratch as much as possible, ranch dressing seemed to be on the list of things I’d just have to give up.

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Ranch Dressing from Vera Lyndon

Well Good News, Folks!

We live in an amazing time for vegans and vegetarians. Cooks and chefs all over the world are working to find innovative new ways of making plant-based versions of classic favorite recipes. One of my favorite innovations is the cashew. It is truly incredible what this nut becomes when you grind it down. And if you add a touch of seasoning, you can transform the cashew into something rich, creamy, and delicious. 

A Simple Base

It all began for me with the Vegan Cashew Sour Cream recipe. Once I nailed down the flavor for that, I quickly saw the possibilities. One of my earliest trials was a vegan cashew Alfredo Sauce (recipe coming soon, I swear!). It was incredible, and completely dairy free! Ever since then I’ve been working on a Ranch replacement recipe that was great on salads but yummy enough for a veggie dip. Well guess what? I nailed it! And I can’t wait to share it with you!

Easy Breezey

I have two young kids, one of which has special needs, so I really can’t be bothered with overly complicated recipes that require lots of cooking and attention. It’s time consuming enough just to stand around chopping vegetables! This is why I LOVE this recipe. You just throw most of the ingredients into a blender, much like the Vegan Cashew Sour Cream recipe, and then afterward you stir in dill to taste and water until it’s the consistency you’re looking for; a little more for salad dressing, not too much for a good dip. So easy!

The Right Tool For The Job



I use my Nutribullet Rx for my dressings and hummus. It makes it really easy to whip up and is very easy to clean. I also recently got the Nutribullet combo set which can make nut butters, and I love it as well! The combo set has a larger capacity jug that’s great for all the things I try to shove into my smoothies. It also has more options for speed, which gives me more options in what I can make. 

I only mention it because when I began a plant-based journey I deliberated over which blender to buy. While I couldn’t afford to spend a lot, I also didn’t want to get something that would break on me within a year. Finally I settled on the Nutribullet Rx as my first blender, and it’s served me well over the past year and a half. Just remember, if you choose that blender, to never blend hot liquids and always use the key tool to get a tight seal. 

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Ranch Dressing from Vera Lyndon

Just As Versatile As The Original

I always test my dips and dressings and adjust to taste as needed. Well, at the time I first made this dressing I was chopping up veggies for a big salad, and tried it with a carrot stick and a celery stick and oh my gosh! It was so good! Now I always make a dish of chopped carrots and celery to keep in the fridge for a quick and tasty snack. Even my four year old daughter can’t get enough of it! Today I used it as a dressing for a lettuce and veggie pita filling inside a toasted, whole wheat pita. Yummmmmm. And last week I tossed it on my kale and mixed-veggie salad. It’s seriously good on absolutely everything where you would use traditional ranch dressing. I can’t get enough! 

What dairy or oil based dressing do you miss the most? 

Vegan Cashew Ranch Dressing

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Ranch Dressing from Vera Lyndon
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Cuisine: American, Oil Free, Plant Based, Vegan
Keyword: cashew, dairy free, dressing, oil free, plant based, ranch, salad, vegan, whole food

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1 c water Plus extra, to thin to desired consistency.
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dill
  • 1 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients except dill in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Move to a glass container.
  • Add dill and stir. Adjust to taste as needed.
  • Add additional water as needed to achieve desired consistency.

Notes

Keeps in a sealed glass jar for up to a week. This recipe makes enough dressing for several salads. 
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING I RECEIVE A COMMISSION FOR PURCHASES MADE THROUGH THESE LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

Italian Spice Blend Recipe

Go-To Italian Spice Blend

Today I’m going to share my absolute favorite go-to Italian spice blend recipe. I use this all the time, in all kinds of ways, and I hope it becomes a staple for your cooking too!

Go-To Italian Spice Blend

Ingredients vs Marketing Terms

I personally can’t stand it when a recipe calls for something ambiguous like “pumpkin spice” or “Italian blend.” They are marketing terms used to sell a product, and erodes away our ability to make our own food. I never learned to bake bread (before now) because bread is made in a factory and put into a bag and sold to me from a grocery store shelf. If the grocery store went away, it would be a struggle for me to have bread until I learned how to properly combine the ingredients. It’s simply a way for businesses and corporations to exert financial control over us, the consumers.

I first encountered this concept watching a start-up show where someone had an idea for a level (the hardware kind) where other tools are stored inside, including a small hammer, two kinds of screwdriver heads, and a small box of nails and screws. The professionals analyzing the product commented that there wasn’t really a market need for the product because the hammer wasn’t as good as a regular hammer you can get for the same price or less. It was instead what they called a “marketing product” for “convenience” to be marketed to people who weren’t really serious about their construction work. The kicker was that they decided to paint it pink and market it to women. Now, I don’t know about you, but I was a little offended by this because I want a tool that gets the job done, pink or not. And clearly they were willing to market an inferior product to women simply to make money. That doesn’t seem fair, but it does seem symptomatic of our consumerist culture and why we as a planet are drowning in stuff that simply isn’t meant to last.

Looking Past the Veil

Now I try to look past marketing to see the quality and value of the essential product itself. Is it made of good materials? Is it meant to last? How does it compare to what a professional in the industry would use? Is it something that’s composed of other things so that I could make it myself for less but with better quality components? This was the founding principle of my jewelry. I was frustrated by the over abundance of cute but cheap jewelry sold absolutely everywhere. I won’t name names, but there are brands that are marketed heavily and sold through fine retailers for fairly high prices, but aren’t even sterling silver. It tarnishes quickly and often times gives me a rash or changes the color of my skin. Then it becomes garbage. These aren’t the kinds of things that become special heirlooms treasured by future generations. So I decided to begin making jewelry where all of the components were, at the very least, surgical steel, and where possible finer metals like gold and sterling silver.

In the same way, I always try to drill down into the essentials of ingredients. I am skeptical when a recipe calls for a premade vegan sour cream, or a store-bought something or other. Some things you can’t really get away from, such as nutritional yeast (which is insanely complicated to make yourself.) But many others are easily and cheaply made from scratch. My own vegan sour cream, my own bread recipes, my own marinara sauce. And it was when I exploring my own marinara sauce recipe that I discovered my absolute favorite go-to Italian spice blend.

So Versatile, So Easy

It’s so simple, and probably uses spices you already have in your pantry or cupboard. I use it for any recipe that calls for an Italian Spice Blend, including the Beefless Stew recipe from Straight up Food by Cathy Fisher, which I will be reviewing over at Blueshift Books this month. (Spoiler Alert: It’s amazing!)

In fact, I’ve got a whole stack of vegan cookbooks I’m ordering this month and will be cooking through and reviewing each one, including a vegan Indian, vegan Thai, vegan Southern, and vegan Mexico. Yum! I’m so excited!

Releasing the Flavor

One note about my process. For this blend, I put them in a small wooden spice grinder and give them a good crush to open up the flavor. I found this olivewood mortar and pestle set at Cost Plus World Market. I then brush clean rather than wash with soap and water, because I only use it for these kinds of leafy, savory spices and over time the flavors from my spice blends will grow in complexity.

Go-To Italian Spice Blend

 

My Go-To Italian Spice Blend in my Olivewood mortar and pestle.

You can also see pictured my stainless steel measuring spoons, which I purchased from Amazon and absolutely love. I’ve been gradually working all the plastic out of my kitchen, and these measuring spoons were one of my first and best purchases. You can get them here.

My Go-To Italian Spice Blend

This simple and easy spice blend can be used in any Italian recipe that calls for an Italian blend. I use it in my marinara sauce and the Beefless Stew recipe from Straight Up Food by Cathy Fisher.
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Spices
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: foundation recipe, italian, marinara, spice blend, spices, staple
Author: Vera Lyndon

Equipment

  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Measuring Spoons

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Instructions

  • Mix well.
  • Optional: Mix a double batch and store in a recycled glass spice jar that once contained one of the spices above.
  • Optional: Put all of the herbs into a small mortar and pestle and crush to release the flavor.

Vegan Cashew Sour Cream Recipe

Vegan Cashew Sour Cream

Let’s Talk About Foundation Recipes

When I started my own life improvement journey, I struggled to find foods that were simple and unprocessed but still delicious and fit into the way I like to enjoy food. I don’t like the idea of focusing my diet on things like fake vegan cheese that acts the same way as real dairy cheese because it’s loaded with chemicals that make it act that way. I’m okay with not having the melty goodness of a real cheeseburger if I’m satisfied in other ways, such as flavor.

One way I’ve decided to approach this problem is by working hard to develop foundational recipes that can be a base for other things and fill in those spots where a recipe calls for something I would have otherwise purchased from the store. From marinara sauce to beans and bread, I’m determined to stop using canned and jarred store bought foods. All too often they have added sugar, salt, and additional unnecessary ingredients geared toward making them more appetizing on a store shelf, and to compensate for what is lost when a food is mass produced.

the first, most magical, most eye opening and delicious result of this hunt was the vegan cashew sour cream recipe. It’s so simple, with ingredients that are affordable and accessible in my city of Des Moines.

Cooking With Cashews

The raw cashews are by far the most expensive and challenging part of this recipe. I first struggled to find raw cashews at all, and then I was disappointed by how expensive they were at my local grocery store in the bulk section. But keep in mind you only need one cup for this recipe, and it’s best to buy only as much as you need because they can go rancid if not stored properly, or kept for too long.

One sign of this is an overpowering fishy smell. Now, I’ve learned through all of this that cashews *always* have a fishy smell to me. So don’t get overly worried if you open your new bag of cashews and they have it. But if they smell fishy and off, you’re probably better off tossing them and getting a new batch. Use your gut.

I eventually found them at Trader Joes for the best price, and they seem to be excellent quality. They are just the pieces, but since I blend them up it doesn’t matter to me if they are whole or in pieces. It’s all the same in the end!

A Note About Soaking Cashews

I’ve read a lot of different thoughts about this and tried it all. When I soaked in cold water overnight, my cashews turned purple and were too soft. The purple color isn’t harmful or a sign of anything wrong, it just means they’ve soaked for too long. When I didn’t soak at all, my cream was a little too gritty. In the end, what worked best was covered the cup of cashews in plain old tap water and setting it on my counter for about two hours. Then I drained them and rinsed them and they were ready to go.

UPDATE: I’ve made this recipe for more than a year and, frankly, I don’t always remember to soak my cashews before using or I’m feeling lazy and don’t really want to. And you know what? It always comes out the same. So really you can skip the soaking step and just toss those bad boys into a blender with the rest of the ingredients. It’ll be fine. 

A Simple Base With Delicious Possibilities

The actual cooking time couldn’t be easier. Once your cashews are soaked and drain, you toss everything into your favorite blend and blend until smooth and creamy. And that’s it! I store mine in a short, wide-mouthed Ball jar and it keeps for up to two weeks.

When I first made this recipe, and it worked out so well, I immediately started dreaming up new ways to expand on it and it worked EVERY SINGLE TIME. It was exhilarating. Two of my favorites are a creamy vegan alfredo sauce and a vegan ranch dressing that I am eating on roasted root veggies as I type this. (Both of those recipes will be coming soon, I promise!) It’s just that versatile, and a true staple recipe in my box.

What variations can you think of? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

Vegan Cashew Sour Cream

Vegan, Oil Free, Plant Based Cashew Sour Cream Recipe from Vera Lyndon
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time2 hrs 12 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, Oil Free, Plant Based, Vegan
Keyword: alfredo, cashew, dairy free, oil free, plant based, ranch, sour cream, vegan, whole food
Author: Vera Lyndon

Ingredients

  • 1 c raw cashews, soaked and drained
  • 2 medium lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt add more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 cloves garlic add more or less to taste, or use garlic powder for a milder flavor

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Enjoy on anything you would otherwise put sour cream on. I love them with chives on a baked potato! Keeps 1-2 weeks in a sealed glass jar.

Notes

A previous version of this recipe suggested soaking the cashews, but I have since found that to be unnecessary. It blends very smooth and creamy without soaking, and it's less prep time to worry about.