Although it's delicious year-round, vegan Creamed Kale has become a holiday favorite. It's just not Thanksgiving unless there's a pile of Creamed Kale on plate, and I love to make it for Christmas dinner, too. You might want to double the recipe, because this side dish disappears quickly. This easy dairy-free recipe is a hit with vegans and omnivores alike, and as a bonus, it's gluten-free.
Vegan Creamed Kale
I've made this vegan Creamed Kale in cooking classes and during in-store cooking demos. I've had people tell me that they usually hate kale, but they'd happily eat this every day of the week. Others have been shocked that it doesn't contain dairy. One women was super excited to have the recipe, because she's lactose intolerant, and had been missing cream.
I didn't eat very many vegetables growing up, mainly because they were just never served in my house, so when I went vegetarian in 1993 I realized that there was a whole new world ahead of me. I had a lot of fun discovering new foods and coming up with ways to cook them. This was long before the kale craze, and leafy greens were totally foreign to me.
I got to know spinach in the form of creamed spinach from Boston Market. Yep, that's right, Boston Market. There was one close to where I worked, so I would often go there for lunch and order a bunch of sides, like green beans, roasted potatoes, steamed mixed veggies and mac and cheese. One day I decided to give the creamed spinach a try and I was immediately hooked. Sadly for me, I made this discovery at the end of my run as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, and had to give it up after going vegan. Happily for me, vegan cooking has come a long way since then (I did mention that it was the 90s, right?), and cashew cream has been a total game changer.
This vegan Creamed Kale recipe is based on my old love, creamed spinach. The dairy cream has been swapped out for cashew cream, and kale has taken the place of spinach, but the spirit of the dish remains.
How to Make Vegan Creamed Kale
This recipe is super easy to make!
I like to use a big pot for this, because raw kale takes up a lot of space. If you're using a frying pan, you may need to add the kale in batches.
- First you cook the shallots in the oil for about 5 minutes, until it begins to brown.
- Then you add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, until it's fragrant.
- Next you add the kale and the stock and allow it to cook for about 5 more minutes, until the kale wilts.
- While the kale is cooking, you mix the cashew cream ingredients together in a blender.
- Now you add the cashew cream to the kale and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, until the cream is heated throughout.
Working with Raw Cashews
It's best to soak your cashews in water for about 2 hours before using them in this recipe to help soften them and make them easier to blend. Some say that they don't need to be soaked if you're using a high-speed blender. I have a Blendtec, and I still like to soak for a bit so there are no little cashews pieces floating around in the dish.
I frequently get asked about using roasted cashews rather than raw in a recipe like this. Raw cashews are softer and have a more neutral flavor, so they work best in cashew cream. Roasted cashews won't blend as easily, and they'll lend a bit of a roasted flavor to the cream.
The cashew cream in this recipe is good in so many different recipes. You can top pretty much any vegetable with it, which is a great way to get picky eaters to eat their veggies. It can be added to soups and stews to give them a little bit of a velvety texture. And it's great on pasta instead of marinara, too.
You can add a little bit of of nutritional yeast to the ingredients when blending it together to give it a cheesy flavor, if you like.
Cashew cream will last in the fridge for about 5 days and in the freezer for about 6 months. It may seem a little lumpy when it's first defrosted, but it will smooth out after a good stirring.
This vegan Creamed Kale will make even the most ardent kale haters ask for seconds! It's become a holiday mainstay in my house. My friends often check in with me before Thanksgiving, to make sure I'm planning on making it.
Vegan Creamed Kale
- 1 teaspoon neutral-flavored oil
- 2 medium-sized shallots minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 bunches kale stems removed and chopped (about 16 ounces)
- ½ cup vegetable stock
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews soaked for two hours, drained and rinsed
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Cook the shallots for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they being to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
- Add the kale and stock to the pot and stir. Sauté until the kale has begun to wilt. Let cook for about 5minutes until most of the liquid has absorbed.
- While the kale is cooking, mix together the cashews, water, lemon juice, and salt in a high speed blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more water a tablespoon at a time.
- Add the cashew cream to the pot with the kale and mix well. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cream is heated throughout.
More Holiday Recipes You May Enjoy Include:
- Green Bean Casserole
- Spinach Mushroom Stuffing
- Quinoa Stuffed Squash
- Maple Miso Glazed Squash
- Easy Cranberry Sauce