One of the most frustrating things about becoming lactose intolerant is not being able to eat some of the delicious foods that I once could. One of those is the Creamy Jalapeño Dip at Chuy’s. I liked the stuff so much that I sought out and tweaked a copy-cat recipe a decade ago. It’s one thing to substitute a vegan sour cream in a recipe that calls for 2T of the stuff, but it’s another thing entirely to substitute vegan milk-like-products in a recipe that is almost entirely dairy. I had essentially given up hope of being able to find something as a base for this recipe.
Enter Isa Does It by Isa Moskowitz. We stumbled across this cookbook in Elliot Bay Books, a local bookstore, and despite having already eaten dinner I was suddenly ravenous. Every single recipe we’ve tried has been delicious. And the best part is that it’s all vegan which means that both Daniel and I can eat everything in it. One of Isa’s secret ingredients is using cashew cream in place of dairy in several recipes, which was an entirely new idea to me. One evening we made her Nirvana Enchilada Casserole (p 225) and after tasting the white sauce I knew I had found the base for my vegan Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip.
That left the little problem of ranch dressing. Ranch dressing itself is, of course, full of dairy (ranch dressing dip mix even has whey in it). While you can find vegan ranch dressing, I was wary of using it as a major component in the dip.
Enter Daniel and his copy of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer. This kitchen stalwart, first published in 1936, is full of odds and ends, including a ranch dressing recipe (p 241). The recipe calls for dairy, but I’d already solved that problem and just needed the list and ratio of spices.
This weekend Daniel and I did some very tasty experimenting and have concocted an initial pass at a vegan version of the recipe. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close!
Vegan Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip
This will make ~3c of dip and take at least 2 hours to make but most of that time is soaking the cashews. It’s best served chilled, so allot some time for that too.
- 1 1/2c raw cashews, unsalted and not roasted
- 1T cornstarch
- 3/4t salt (for the “sour cream”)
- 1c 2T water (plus more for the initial soaking)
- 4oz can hatch green chilies, drained
- 4oz can sliced jalapeños, drained
- 2t dried chives
- 6T fresh cilantro (or 2t dried cilantro)
- 1/4c lemon juice
- 1/4t course ground black pepper
- 3/4t salt (for the dip)
- 1T garlic-infused olive oil (or 2 garlic cloves)
Start out by making the “sour cream” – this is a 2x quantity of Isa’s white sauce from her Nirvana Enchilada Casserole recipe: Soak the cashews for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover them, longer won’t hurt. Don’t skip the soaking or your sour cream will be gritty – eww! Drain the cashews and put them into a blender. Add the cornstarch, 3/4t salt, and 1c + 2T water. Blend until smooth which will take several minutes. You only want 2c of this, so set the rest aside.
With 2c of the “sour cream” in the blender, add in the other ingredients and blend well. Adjust to taste, adding some of the remainder “sour cream” if it’s too strong or spicy.
Chill in the fridge, preferably overnight.
Serve cold with warm chips and try not to eat all of it at one sitting!