I am crazy about all things hot and spicy. While many people only pull out fiery tongue tinglers for their weekly taco Tuesday, you’ll find me toting these blistering condiments to the table on a day-to-day basis, from breakfast through dinner.
Vegan tofu scramble is better with a dash of hot sauce.
Noodle stir-fry is sassier with sriracha.
Gyoza are best dipped in hot Chinese mustard.
Sandwiches have kick with sliced jalapeño peppers or served with a side of hot pickled asparagus.
And of course, saag aloo is divine with the request, “I’d like it hot, please.”
I think the only meal that isn’t improved upon when served with something scorching is dessert, but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.
That’s why when I saw that this week’s Vegan MoFo-hosted Iron Chef Challenge involved making a recipe using the ingredient breadcrumbs, I knew I needed to bust out a vegan version of an old pregan classic – jalapeño poppers.
Even before I went vegan, it had probably been years since I’d indulged in poppers, but the memory was clear. There’s the crisp breading with a creamy inside followed by a hit of heat and bite from the pepper.
It’s no wonder that they’re loved throughout diners, sports bars, and anywhere icy cold Mexican beer with lime is served. Clearly the only thing left to do was to make them vegan-friendly.
A creamy and salty cashew cheese takes the place of the standard cream cheese, followed by a breading of flour and breadcrumbs, and then baked in the oven.
It surprised me how much hotter these fresh poppers are than the frozen ones of yore. They have a crisp lightness about them and a real no-nonsense sensibility.
They would be an excellent addition to a party appetizer platter or to serve alongside a mild and creamy potato soup.
Cashew Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
- ½ cup raw cashews soaked 4-12 hours in water
- 1 Tablespoon white miso paste
- 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast divided
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped
- 4 to 5 large jalapenos sliced in half length-wise and seeded
- ½ cup non-dairy milk
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano divided
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme divided
- 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic divided
- 3/4 teaspoon granulated onion divided
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Blend drained raw cashews, miso, 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast, and extra virgin olive oil in food processor. Stop occasionally to scrape down sides. Once smooth, add fresh basil and oregano and blend until fully combined.
- For slicing and seeding jalapenos, remember to wear gloves. After they’re sliced and seeded, fill the cavities of each jalapeno pepper half with cashew cheese. (Don’t worry too much if the cheese plumps over the top of each half. It will still cook fine without falling out.)
- Prepare the breading station. Combine rice milk and cornstarch in a shallow bowl. On a separate plate combine flour and ¼ teaspoon each of dried oregano, dried thyme, granulated onion, and granulated garlic. On another plate combine breadcrumbs, 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast, and ½ teaspoon each dried oregano, dried thyme, granulated onion, and granulated garlic.
- To make the baked version, dredge a cashew-cheese stuffed jalapeno in the flour mixture, sealing the cashew cheese into the cavity. Then dip the jalapeno into the milk mixture. Finally, coat it in the breadcrumb plate. Press the crumbs onto the pepper until fully covered. Set aside and repeat with each pepper until they’re all coated. Place the peppers on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake the peppers for 30 minutes. (Optional) For further browning, after they’ve finished baking move the peppers to a broiling pan and broil them at a medium heat for 2 minutes. Keep an eye on them to be sure that they brown and don’t burn. Remove from oven and serve.
- To make the baked then fried version, dredge a cashew-cheese stuffed jalapeno in the flour mixture, sealing the cashew cheese into the cavity. Then dip the jalapeno in the milk mixture. Dip the jalapeno in the flour mixture for a second time. Then dip the jalapeno in the milk mixture a second time. Finally, move the jalapeno to the breadcrumb plate and fully coat it with crumbs. Set aside and repeat with each pepper until they’re all coated. After all of the peppers are coated, give each of them one final dredging in the flour mixture. Place the peppers on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake the peppers for 30 minutes. When the peppers are almost done, heat a large skillet with a small amount of neutral oil, like canola oil. After the peppers are finished baking in the oven, move them to the skillet and lightly fry them for 3-4 minutes or until they are browned. Remove them from the skillet and serve.