Monday, November 15, 2010

Nut Cheese (quit giggling!)

When I told a friend I ate nut cheese, she giggled & giggled until she almost peed her pants.  But seriously people, cheese made from nuts (the kind from trees, not men!), is a wonderfully flavorful addition to a vegan diet.

In addition to nut cheeses, there are a variety of vegan cheese substitutes that can help jazz up your favorite recipe.  Vegan cheeses are easy to make, but most require a bit of planning because you need time to soak the nuts. (Ok, now I'm giggling with an image of soaking nuts!!)

One of the great things about nut cheeses is that you get amazing nutrition from nuts instead of the artery-clogging animal fat from dairy cheeses.

Besides their nutrition & taste, they are another way to incorporate your herbal magic(k) into your kitchen witch practice.  Experiment with some basic recipes & soon you'll be making love cheese (basil), cleansing cheese (sage), & a variety of other herbal cheeses!

Oh, & by the way nut cheeses taste amazing!

Here are a few of the recipes I use, feel free to muck around with them as you learn to make cheese yourself:

Nut Ricotta

I use this in Italian recipes as a ricotta substitute & also as a spread on crackers & sandwiches.  This recipe is a modification of a bunch of different ones I found in cookbooks & on the internet.  They're all about the same with a few changes.  Many thanks to Isa Moskowitz of Veganomicon & Jannequin Bennet of The Complete Vegan Kitchen for their inspiration!!

1 cup cashews
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
dash pepper
1 package firm tofu (may omit, see note below)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp fresh basil
2 tsp fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh oregano

Soak cashews in water for 2 hours (can be skipped if you're in a hurry, but the texture will be different). Drain & rinse.  Place cashews, garlic, salt & pepper in the food processor with S blade & process until a paste is created.  Add in the rest of the ingredients & process until mixed well & a good texture has formed.

You can also make this without the tofu, just add water while you're processing to get the right texture.  Try adding sun-dried tomatoes or increasing or changing the herbs.

Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil - this recipe comes from Vegetarian Times & is tried & true.  It takes a lot of work, so I don't make it very often.

Pepper Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese - another great recipe from Vegetarian Times! This is super yummy.  I don't tend to crust it if I'm using it on pizza, though (& it's wonderful on pizza!).

Vegan Parmesan
This is a recipe in process.  Each time I make it, there are adjustments.
The base recipe comes from here: Vegan Parmesan Recipe.  None of the versions taste exactly like Parmesan, but they add a great flavor to any dish that calls for Parmesan's kick.

1 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp salt
dash onion powder
1 tsp dried parsley

Toast the almond & sunflower seeds lightly.  Allow to cool completely.  Grind the nuts & seeds in a food processor or coffee grinder (small batches for coffee grinder) until they are powdery.  Be careful not to grind them into a paste!  Mix in nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder & parsley.  Store in refrigerator. 

Ethos Kitchen's Basic Cheese Sauce (using commercial vegan cheese substitute)

This recipe belongs to Kelly from Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Orlando, FL.  Kelly was kind enough to hold a few vegan cooking workshops & really kick-started my vegan cooking skills. If you ever find yourself in Orlando, visit Ethos for some homey vegan fare!  You can use any vegan margarine & cheese substitute to make this recipe, I've just found these brands are the ones my hubby & I like the best & the ones Kelly recommends.

2 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine
2 cups Follow Your Heart Monterrey Jack or Cheddar
Salt to taste
1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened milk substitute (I use Silk Almond Milk, Kelly uses Eden Soy Milk)

Melt margarine over medium heat in a skillet or small saucepan.  Add cheese & salt, stir constantly until melted.  Add milk to desired thickness/thinness.  Serve over pasta or veggies or whatever.  You can add any number of herbs to this recipe & it is fabulous.  My favorite way to serve it is:

Vegan Nachos
1 recipe of Basic Cheese Sauce (above)
1/2 package of vegan "beef" crumbles or "beef" TVP soaked
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp chili powder
dash cayenne
Salt & Pepper
1 can black beans or pinto beans
Avocado or vegan guacamole
Corn chips

Once cheese sauce is done, add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir & continue to cook over medium heat until hot & combined (don't worry if your cheese sauce separates momentarily, it will all come back together).  Sprinkle with cilantro.  Serve with corn chips & avocado or guacamole.  YUMMMY!

Now that I've given you all the recipes, remember...YOU'RE THE COOK!  Modify, adjust, tinker.  Let me know how your versions turned out.

Tomorrow, I''m going to try a new Sun-dried Tomato Cashew Cheese over my Polenta...stay tuned.

Wild & Bright Blessings!



  1. These sound AMAZING! I can't wait to try them!

  2. Bright Blessings to you *Rhi*
    I followed a link over to here from GreenWitchGarden and so glad I did..the cheese looks amazing! I look forward to reading more!