This Delicious, Plant-Based Queso Uses a Surprising Ingredient as Its Base
The biggest event in football is days away, and many of us are planning our game night menu. Whether you’re keeping things intimate or entertaining a crowd, you’re going to want to incorporate your favorite snack foods — and that can seem like a challenge if you’re trying to eat more plant-based and healthier.
Queso is more than a Spanish word for cheese: The experience of enjoying queso is a tradition for so many families and friend groups. It’s a mainstay snack at parties and game nights, and it’s part of a ritual that can absolutely translate to a plant-based version — assuming that it maintains the same richness and complexity of flavor. Primal Kitchen’s take on queso absolutely delivers.
One of the most interesting aspects of this vegan spin on classic queso is that it’s made with pumpkin seed butter, which is an unexpected — but frankly brilliant — ingredient. It helps create an ultra-creamy consistency without using any dairy at all. Pumpkin seed butter is made by blending pepitas until they’re rich and velvet-smooth, similar to sunflower seed butter.
Here are a few of our favorite healthy ways to use this delicious, plant-based queso:
Smashed Air-Fried Brussels Sprouts
The air fryer is a godsend for so many of our favorite snack foods, and ever since TikTok made smashed Brussels sprouts famous, we just had to try it in the air fryer. This simple recipe just requires Brussels sprouts, a bit of olive oil, and salt, pepper, and garlic (but lemon pepper would work delightfully here, too). Smash the Brussels sprouts as you would potatoes (not too flat, but enough that they get a caramelized crisp) and cook at 350 for about ten minutes before flipping, then leaving them for just five more minutes on the other side. Then, dip in Primal Kitchen’s No-Dairy Queso-Style Plant-Based Dip — or pour some on top before serving. (And if you don’t feel like smashing your sprouts, just slice them in half vertically before air frying.)
Roasted Cruciferous Vegetables
Much like the smashed Brussels sprouts, roasting cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli can be a fantastic use for the queso. We’re all familiar with having enjoyed broccoli with cheese sauce as kids, and this is a healthier, more grown-up, non-dairy spin. Make this recipe extra appealing by using different colors of cauliflower, like purple and orange. Roast them in the air fryer with a small amount of heart-healthy olive oil as well as some garlic, salt, and pepper at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (shaking the basket once midway through).
We’re all familiar with slicing up carrots, celery, and red bell pepper strips to enjoy in a variety of dips and dressings — but give that concept a whole new dimension of flavor by dipping it in this delicious plant-based queso dip.
A dip of beans, queso, and guacamole is pretty standard for any party — just substitute No-Dairy Queso-Style Plant-Based Dip for classic queso, and it works just as well. Warm the queso and pair it with guacamole, olives, green onions, lettuce, tomato, and black beans. A plant-based sour cream could be a good topper here, as well. Just layer a few spoonfuls of each ingredient in a serving dish or bowl, sprinkle with cilantro, and enjoy.
Baked Baby Potatoes
Queso is always delightful on top of a baked potato, but if you’re serving a crowd, a whole potato can be a bit overwhelming. Instead, consider roasting baby potatoes — or for a small group, up the health level by baking sweet potatoes and tossing some steamed broccoli in before adding queso.
Corn Flour Quesadillas
A mainstay of game night or tailgating: Food we can enjoy with our hands, while chatting and watching the game. That’s one reason quesadillas are so popular, and keeping it plant-based can be just as delicious if using a recipe like black bean & vegetable quesadillas in corn tortillas. The queso can go inside the quesadilla as the “cheese” — but also be used on the outside as a dip.
While we’re probably not going to want to make a habit of dipping fried potatoes into queso, there’s always an opportunity to spin things around a bit. Air-fried eggplant strips, chickpeas, and avocado fries can be a delicious and indulgent-feeling way of enjoying queso, too.
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