Cheez

½ c cashew pieces, soaked in cold water to soften then drained

12 oz shelf stable organic tofu (like Mori Nu)

2T to ¼ c fresh lemon juice (2T if not using immediately)

2-4 cloves garlic (more if using in an Italian recipe)

1.5 t dried basil

1 t salt

Optional: 1 T nutritional yeast, cooked sweet potato or turmeric

If you forget to soak the cashew pieces in cold water before making the ricotta, microwave them in water for 30 seconds.  Let cool and drain the water from the cashews.  Or, if you have a high powered blender (like VitaMix), just puree on high until the sauce is no longer grainy.

If you are storing the sauce to use in a few days, use less than the recommended 1/4 c fresh lemon juice as the acidity intensifies with time.  If cheez sauce is made in advance, remove from refrigerator when you start boiling water for pasta.  When pasta is cooked, leave 1/4c or so of the cooking water in the pot with the pasta.  Add the cheez sauce directly to the pot and stir until warmed through.

Baked sweet potato is a wonderful addition here- not only does it add color but also fiber and lots of vitamin A.  I’ve added as much as 2 medium baked sweet potatoes to this recipe- just add a little water to thin the cheez sauce as needed or check out Orange Cheez.

Turmeric is also great to achieve a more traditional yellow color and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree.  One batch makes about 2 cups, which is enough for one large lasagna or a batch of mac n cheez to feed a family of 4.

When reheating leftover cheez, add a tablespoon or two of water before reheating, then stir well to regain that creamy texture, adding more liquid as needed.