I was on a quest to create an oil-free vegan hollandaise, even if I only make it a few times in a year. Hollandaise is probably the first thing I ever made as a child. I loved it. My mother made it only few times a year, and I thought it was the best thing ever. Hollandaise is what my mother used to introduce us to artichokes when we first moved to California and what got me to like all kinds of vegetables early on. She served hollandaise with a variety of vegetables—asparagus, broccoli, green beans and sometimes cauliflower.
What is it that makes hollandaise so good? The traditional version is made with butter which makes it creamy and egg yolk which gives it sheen. But these attributes can certainly be replicated with plant-based ingredients and the oil-free vegan version has the huge health benefit of leaving behind all that saturated fat and cholesterol. The true essence of hollandaise is the silky smooth creamy texture and the bright citrus notes from the lemon.
Initially, I tried it with blended tofu, but tofu has a slight chalky taste and just didn’t have the right texture and the creamy texture is part of what makes hollandaise so good. Moving on . . . I had already come up with a super smooth creamy oil-free vegan butter and a cashew based lemon cream sauce with a hint of saffron. These two recipes gave me what I needed to create a magical silky smooth plant-based version of hollandaise. Now I use this oil-free vegan Hollandaise for the lemon cream sauce. Seriously good over pasta.
Oddly, it’s that little pinch of saffron that makes the oil-free vegan hollandaise taste so good even though saffron was never in the traditional. Saffron adds a mild floral flavor and a lovely golden yellow hue. Saffron comes from the crocus sativa flower. In high quality saffron, the yellow stamen has been removed leaving just the deep red flavorful stigma threads, thereby giving a rich golden color and deep floral flavor. Persian saffron is usually very high quality. The thread release a really golden yellow, almost orange hue and your vegan hollandaise will reflect that saturated color. The flavor is floral and mellow imparting just the right saffron note into dishes.
Roasted garlic gives a mild but robust savory taste balancing the slightly sweet cashew flavor and makes for a silky smooth creamy texture with a sheen. As with the Luscious Oil-free Vegan Butter which is the base of this Hollandaise, simmering the cashews instead of soaking the cashews overnight gives a smoother more buttery taste and texture.
If you don’t use all of the hollandaise all in one night, you can store it in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid for up to four days in the cold part of your refrigerator. It will become thicker, but you can give it a good stir with a fork to loosen it up. If needed, you can also stir in a teaspoon at a time of lemon juice or water to get it back to the consistency you like.
Silky Smooth Vegan Hollandaise
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1/4 tsp saffron (a pinch)
1/2 cup very hot water, divided
2/3 cup organic raw cashews
1 whole garlic bulb
4 tbls lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
Tools I Use:
small bowl; strainer; small sauce pan; knife; cutting board; bake pan; parchment paper; hand blender; flexible silcone spatula
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the saffron in a small bowl with about 2 tablespoons of hot water and set aside and allow to sit for at least 10–30 minutes. The saffron threads will release a lovely golden color and aromatic floral flavor.
Rinse the cashews a few times in a strainer and drain.
Place the cashews in the sauce pan and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to boil, then turn the heat down and simmer on low heat with the lid on for about 40–45 minutes. The cashews should be soft and will look smooth on the outside. Pour the cashews through a strainer, discarding the liquid. Place the cashews in the blender cup.
While the cashews are simmering you can roast the garlic bulb. Cut off the top of the bulb so some of the garlic clove tops are exposed. Wrap the garlic bulb loosely in parchment paper and place on a baking pan or sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until the garlic clove interiors are soft and slightly golden. We don’t want the garlic to get dark for this recipe, just slightly golden and soft. Usually it’s just the papery part that gets too dark, but if the cloves have dark spots, cut and discard that part. Dark garlic will give an unpleasant bitter taste.
When the garlic bulb has cooled enough to handle, squeeze out the indiviual garlic cloves and place in the blender cup with the cashews.
Wrap a paper towel around the blender cup top to prevent the mixture from splattering out. Start blending the cashews and roasted garlic paste with a pulsing action (turn on for a few seconds, turn off, turn on again). Scrape down the sides with a flexible spatula and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the very hot water and continue blending. It should be a really thick paste and pretty smooth. It will get smoother and thinner in the next step.
Add the lemon juice, the saffron and its golden liquid, cayenne and the salt if using. Blend until very smooth. It will start to have a little sheen too. It should be fairly thick such that it forms peaks that hold. If too thick, add more of the hot water a little at a time and blending in between until the consistency is super smooth.
It’s now ready to serve. A sprinkle of cayenne looks pretty and adds a little more piquante. Sweet paprika is also a nice finishing touch.
Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
© The Noil Kitchen
Another dish that saffron shines in is
Saffron and Lemon Infused Basmati Rice
This oil-free vegan hollandaise boasts the true essence of why hollandaise is so good — a silky smooth texture, robust flavor and bright citrus notes.
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