Yield: 2 cups (6 to 8 servings)
Cheese is the Achilles heel of many plant-based eaters. Commercial plant options looked like cheese, but that is where the similarity ended. The depth of flavor found in dairy-based cheese just couldn’t be matched by non-dairy alternatives, until recently. Now fabulous plant-cheeses are making an appearance – many of these based on nuts. The downside is they are not yet widely available, and they are expensive. However, making your own is not nearly as challenging as you might imagine. Miyoko Shinner is a vegan cheese genius, and her book, Vegan Artisan Cheese is a masterpiece. This recipe is adapted from this book.
2 cups (500 ml) broken, raw cashews* , rinsed and soaked for about 8 hour
1/2 cup (125 ml) rejuvelac* or water
1/2 tsp (2 ml) probiotic powder
pinch of salt
Puree the nuts with 1 cup (250 ml) rejuvelac or water, probiotic powder and salt in a high-powered blender. Add a little water to facilitate blending, if necessary. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm area for 12 to 36 hours. My preference is to put on the lowest temperature of the dehydrator and let dehydrate for about 12-18 hours. This makes the cheese firmer and sharper.
If using rejuvelac, there is no need for probiotic powder, although I usually use it anyway to ensure a healthy culture of bacteria.
1. Use other nuts such as soaked almonds (skins removed) and macadamia nuts can be used in place of cashews.
2. Herbed cheese – add about a tablespoon (15 ml) of mixed herbs such as chives, dill and parsley and cracked black pepper or a pinch of cayenne to the cheese. Salt to taste.
3. Sundried tomato/basil cheese – add 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of finely chopped sundried tomatoes, 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil, finely chopped and 1-2 cloves garlic. Salt to taste.
4. Olive and oregano cheese – add 1/4 cup chopped olives and about a 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried Italian herbs (e.g. oregano, basil and rosemary)
5. Use your imagination. Almost anything goes. Make a cheese ball by rolling a the cheese in nuts, dried red and green peppers (as pictured above) or herbs.