Vegan Cheese Sauce
Why This Recipe Works
We experimented with the familiar cast of characters used to develop vegan cheese-like sauces—cashews, nutritional yeast, and miso, along with various vegetables. Tasters were largely distracted by their vegetal flavors and pasty textures. The most neutral-tasting ingredient in the lot was potato, and we had a revelation when we broke a cardinal kitchen rule: We whirred boiled potatoes in the blender at high speed to release as much gummy, gluey starch as possible. While this would make the most unappealing mashed potatoes, the sticky mixture was the ideal base for a cheese-like sauce with stretch. We blended in a few other key ingredients—carrot for a hint of sweetness and a color, nutritional yeast for funky depth, and a bit of vegetable oil for richness and fluidity—and ended up with a sauce with a pleasing orange color, mildly earthy flavor, and ultracreamy texture. We stirred in a combination of sautéed poblano pepper, onion, garlic, chipotle chile, cumin, and mustard powder for Tex-Mex appeal.