Mar 10, 2011

Cashew roasted garlic spread

This recipe was the winner in this week’s Kitchen Challenge over on Salon. It also won a cooking throwdown at my office. Woohoo!

Being an almost-vegan, the idea of vegan cheese should appeal to me, but to be honest, I think it’s silly. I’ve had nut cheeses made from cashews, and they tend to be bland and tasteless. The main flavor tends to come from the nutritional yeast that’s often used. Sorry, but if I want cheese, I’ll break my cardiologist-ordered diet and eat a bite or two of English farmhouse cheddar.

Having said that, I took one cue from the vegan cheeseheads in developing my rich and creamy Italian cashew spread: I soaked the cashews overnight to make them soft. But rather than going for a thick, cheese-like texture, I created a spread that’s more reminiscent of a white bean dip. The hefty dose of roasted garlic, along with lemon and olive oil, put it in a whole different league than faux cheese.

This would be good served on whole grain bread, garlic crostini, or even cucumber slices. If you have it on crackers, be sure they don’t have a strong flavor or the crackers will overwhelm the lovely roasted garlic taste.

Cashew Roasted Garlic Spread

2 cups raw cashews
1 whole head garlic
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soak the cashews in a large bowl of cold water for 6 hours or overnight, then drain.

Preheat the oven to 400. Peel off the outer papery skin of the garlic head. Slice along the top of the bulb to reveal a bit of the cloves. Place in a baking pan, drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Place the drained cashews in a food processor. Add the roasted garlic, squeezing out the contents of each clove. Add the remaining ingredients and process until very smooth.

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See more recipes: Appetizers, Gluten-free, Vegan


  • I always forget how amazing roasted garlic is – until I come across recipes such as this one! I also love cashews, so this dip is definitely something I would enjoy.

  • I’ll definitely have to try this one – I can see serving this with crackers AND having the kale chips in another bowl alongside.

  • this looks amazing. i am a garlic fiend, so a whole head of roasted garlic in a spread is right up my alley!

  • OMG this sounds amazing! I love roasted garlic!

  • jenna

    All i can say is WOW. This was amazing! I had the opportunity to taste it as part of the office challenge and all i can say is i will entertain the effort to make it just to have it again– and it will be an effort as my cooking skills are suspect. The spread was creamy and rich in all the right ways. Cath- you never disappoint!

  • Brooke

    So good & so simple. My family is a big fan of garlic. I can’t wait to whip this out for game night. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Lovely! I can’t stand the heavy dips, either, and this looks great!

    it reminds me a bit of an artichoke and rosted garlic dip I made recently that was awesome:

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    That looks good, Janet. Hmm, maybe a roasted garlic-cashew-artichoke dip experiment is in order.

  • OOOh it won twice! This was so delicious!!

  • Nuni

    MAN, this was good! Fast and easy too. I might even add more garlic. Spread on thinly-sliced Italian bread to go with ravioli and fire-roasted tomato/red pepper sauce.

  • Wendy

    This crazy good dip accompanied me to an Oscars party tonight. Really delicious! Thanks, Cathy.

  • Thanks, Wendy! So glad you liked it.

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