Let’s be honest: The only reason why crudités remain a mainstay app is because of the dipping sauces they’re paired with. (And okay, it helps to get some fiber in when you’re enjoying all the different types of holiday cookies.) Raw carrots, cauliflower, and celery are a meh snack unless you have a creamy side of Ranch or French onion dip to slather them in.
If you’re dairy-free or vegan, most dips you’ll find next to the crudités plate are going to be a no-go for you. But bless Loving It Vegan blogger Alison Andrews for finding a way to give beloved French onion dip a plant-based makeover. Not only is it completely vegan, but it packs more protein and fiber than the traditional dip.
Her secret ingredient? Cashews, which are used to make the “sour cream” in the dip. “Cashews have a very smooth, creamy texture when blended. They are also quite neutral in flavor so tend to work really well when used to replicate the tastes and textures of dairy products,” Andrews explains. The cashews are soaked and then blended with nutritional yeast (for a nutty, cheesy flavor), lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and water. Besides ensuring that the dip is rich and creamy, cashews are a trifecta of nutritional benefits, packing fiber, protein, and healthy fats. That’s something traditional French onion dip definitely can’t boast.
Just as important as the cashew-based sour cream is the caramelized onions, which Andrews says is the one tricky part for getting the dip just right. “What’s most important is to have patience when caramelizing the onions,” she says. “It takes 45 to 50 minutes to perfectly caramelize them on low heat. If you increase the heat it won’t make it happen faster, they will just burn. So you have to take the slow and steady approach to perfect caramelized onions.” Don’t worry—your patience will pay off when you taste the end result.
When it comes to getting the consistency of the dip perfectly creamy, Andrews’s insider tip is to soak the cashews before blending them. “You just add them to a bowl and pour boiling water over the top until the cashews are submerged. Let them soak for 15 minutes and then drain and rinse them,” she says. “This will help them blend up much smoother.”
Ready to make whip up this protein-filled vegan dip? Keep reading for the recipe.
Vegan French onion dip recipe
For the cashew sour cream:
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast 1/2 tsp sea salt
For the caramelized onions:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Fresh chopped parsley
Chips, crackers, or vegetables
1. Make the cashew sour cream: Add cashews, water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, and sea salt to your blender jug and blend until smooth. Set aside.
2. Caramelize the onions: Add olive oil and chopped onions to a frying pan or skillet and heat on low heat.
Cook for 45 to 50 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and golden. Remove the onions from the heat and let them cool completely.
3. Assemble: In a mixing bowl add the cashew sour cream, caramelized onions, vegan mayonnaise, onion powder, salt, and ground black pepper and mix together.
4. Serve immediately topped with fresh chopped parsley and with chips, crackers, or vegetables for dipping.
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