by: Purple Carrot

We’re about to turn your world upside down: cashews aren’t nuts! Along with almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and Brazil nuts, cashews are technically seeds.

All About Cashew Apples

The cashew seed grows on the outside of the cashew apple. It’s native to the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America, and now grown in Vietnam, India, and the Ivory Coast. When ripe, the cashew apple has a red/orange hue; it has a refreshing taste with a bit of acidity.  You might have had cashew apple juice without even knowing it; it’s common for cashew apple juice to be added to tropical cocktails.

Cashew Seeds

The cashew seed itself is picked from the apple, it will have that hallmark c-shape, but it’s a matte, grey-ish color. You should never eat a cashew straight from the apple, its shell is filled with powerful toxins, including one with similar properties to poison ivy (in other words, avoid having your skin come in contact with that liquid at all costs).

To make cashews edible the shell must be removed very, very carefully and the inner seed is roasted to burn away any remaining toxins. You’ll know a cashew is safe for consumption because it will have that characteristic tan color. 

Cook with Cashews

In the Purple Carrot test kitchen, cashews are a staple!  Not only are cashews tasty, they’re packed with protein and essential minerals including copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. A 30g serving (¼ cup) has just 170 calories, 13g of fat, and 5g of protein. 

Plus, these “nuts” make deliciously creamy salad dressings, sauces, and vegan cheeses. We soak the nuts and then blend them to create a thick, luscious texture. 

Cashews are the perfect base for our velvety, plant-based Caesar dressing. With just 5 ingredients, this dressing is quick and easy to make, and it has the ideal balance of sweet, salty, and bitter. 

Ingredients

    • ¼ cup cashews
    • 1 tbsp white miso paste
    • 2 garlic
    • 1 lemon, halved
    • 2 tsp Dijon mustard 

Directions

Soak the cashews in ¼ cup hot water for at least 10 minutes.  Add the lemon juice, cashews, their soaking water, Dijon mustard, white miso paste, and garlic to a blender. Blend until smooth. Season the creamy cashew dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle over your favorite Caesar salador any salad for that matter. Bon Appétit!