26 Times Fruits and Vegetables Disguised Themselves as Dairy & Fooled Us All

August 11, 2016

​Sometimes the word "creamy" is incredibly apt: when describing ice cream, for example, or a gratin, or macaroni and cheese.

And sometimes, "creamy" is simply the best approximation we have: when describing a ripe avocado or a satiny pawpaw, for example.

Above: Four instances of cream-free creaminess.

Creamy—that word we use to mean the slick that coats the mouth and sits on the tongue—is the defining characteristic of the rather plain-tasting cream (dictionary definition: "resembling cream in consistency or color"). But for the fruits and vegetables that we call creamy, there's often a whole lot more going on—and this can sometimes make for an even more exciting eating sensation.

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Without further ado, here are 26 times fruits and vegetables (and okay, beans, too because I got a little carried away!) were tricksters, harnessing their powers—their slick-silkiness (in the case of roasted-'til-molten onions) or smooth-softness (in the case of blended avocados)—and masquerading as something that can only be described as "creamy." Fruity, vegetable-y, bean-y—they are all of those things too. But creamy, definitely.

Caveat: Despite the absence of cream, not all of these recipes are vegan! But for those that are not, substitutes abound.

With a little manipulation and a blender, onions can stand in for—and maybe even one-up!—cream:

Don't use it just to top soup! Grant Lee Crilly, who dreamt this up, suggests adding it to risotto, to herby pasta, to mashed potatoes, or even to quiche. Or how about to this Kale Gratin? ​

Sneaky, sneaky cauliflower:

Ugh, avocados have us fooled... again!!

Beans aren't a vegetable, but this dip certainly is creamy, as is the soup and the pasta​. Plus 2016 is the International Year of the Pulses so give me a break.

In the freezer, bananas get brain-freeze and convince themselves they're ice cream (same is true when they come into close contact with soaked cashews, another cream impersonator):​

Corn, when the cobs are milked for all they're worth, is a particularly skilled master of disguise:

Chard—the stalks, specifically. Leaves: We see right through you!

Coconut, its "milk" and its "cream," mostly. (See, even the official words are confusing!)

There's tofu in there, too! A double whammy.

Hey, now how'd this peach get in my ice cream?

Squash, but we have until fall to try to learn its sly ways: ​

What's the cream-free dish that's surprised you most? Tell us in the comments below!

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The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

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