ANOTHER WEEK DOWN, ALMOST!
Planning a vin et fromage this weekend, by any chance? WELL, IF YOU WEREN’T. NOW YOU MOST CERTAINLY ARE. How come, you ask?
LET ME EXPLAIN.
OKAY, so I have been meaning to try making my own VEGAN CASHEW HERBY-GARLICKY CHEESE for weeks now & I never got around to it! BUT YESTERDAY, I FINALLY DID!! Now, I couldn’t sit & tell you how DELISH it was YESTERDAY because it was still firming up in the fridge. You have no idea how hard it was to resist devouring it given how perfect it looked & how delicious it smelled. LEGIT, LIKE PERFECTION. CHEESY (WITHOUT THE DAIRY) PERFECTION!
BUT NOW THAT I’VE DEVOURED ABOUT 1/4 OF IT… No shame… I CAN SIT HERE & RANT & RAVE ABOUT HOW MAGICALLY DELICIOUSLY PERFECTLY PERFECT THIS STUFF IS.
It satisfies all my VEGAN CHEESE DREAMS, literally!
It is a little bit of a process, a very easy one, but still a process, BUT IT’S WORTH EVERY MINUTE. TBH, I thought it would be a lot more complicated & fussy than it actually was, which is actually why it took me so much time to actually GET UP & TRY IT OUT. And guess what? No fussy complications. Just pure, creamy, flavour-packed PLANT-BASED DELICIOUSNESS. WINNNNNNNNING.
In a nutshell, the recipe is pretty simple. ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS SOAK THE CASHEWS, PROCESS THEM WITH SEASONINGS TO FLAVOUR, WRAP IN A CHEESECLOTH TO ABSORB THE LIQUID & CHILL. That is all. Obviously, the cheese involves a bit of planning ahead because you have to soak the cashews & the chill the babe, BUT THE PREP IS SO SIMPLE & QUICK that it is one of those recipes that happens in the background while you’re busy doing a million + 1 other things.
Flavours, you ask?
- Fresh garlic & garlic powder for ZING, INTENSITY & SPICE.
- Lemon juice for CITRUS, ACIDITY, TART & BRIGHTNESS.
- NUTRITIONAL YEAST FOR CHEESINESS (MY ABSOLUTE FAVE).
- Salt for FLAVAH.
- Loads of dried herbs for MORE FLAVOUR (I mean, there’s no such thing as too much flavour, right?).
BASICALLY, THIS IS VEGAN PLANT-BASED GOODNESS AT ITS FINEST. It kinda makes me understand why vegans are actually able to give up cheese in the first place… THIS STUFF ACTUALLY COMPARES TO THE REAL THING. I SWEAR, it is the most WONDERFUL alternative ever.
AND COMING FROM ME… A FREAKING CHEESE LOVER & A HALF, these words mean WONDERS! All this to say, WHATEVER YOU WANNA CALL IT, cheese, cheese, cheez, no-cheese-cheese, VEGAN CHEESE CAN BE JUST AS GOOD AS THE REAL THING. PROMISE!
It’s everything from creamy, soft, cheesy, a little bit chunky, savoury, garlicky, lemony, HERBY & entirely magically perfectly VEGAN DELICIOUSNESS!
BUT HOW ON EARTH IS IT MADE, RIGHT?
CASHEWS. CASHEWS. CASHEWS.
Some NUTRITION-101 COMING RIGHT UP.
Loaded with copper & selenium (antioxidants), manganese (brain health), magnesium (bone strength & joint flexibility), phosphorus & vitamin K!
Cashews also contain flavanols, which inhibit the ability of cancer cells to divide & multiply!
The babes contain ZERO CHOLESTEROL, which makes them great for heart health & for reducing blood pressure!
All but a small amount of the fat in cashews is the good kind, a.k.a. oleic acid (which is also found in olive oil!). In fact, oleic acid is great for heart health!
Cashews are rich in vitamins, such as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin & thiamin!
NOW, BACK TO THE CHEESE.
There are actually two ways you can devour this cheese (one of which allows you to devour it a lot faster than if it has to sit & firm up – THE TEMPTATION WILL ALMOST KILL YOU. NO KIDDING!).
The first way? A.K.A. THE WAY TO GO IF YOU NEED YO’ CHEESE NOW. Devour it as a soft cheese the second it’s FRESH OUT ‘DA FOOD PROCESSOR. The texture will be more like ricotta (with a little bit of chunks) rather than a thick, spreadable cheese, BUT IT’S JUST AS YUMMY.
OR… IF YOU’VE GOT RESISTANCE & PATIENCE, THE SECOND WAY? Take the extra step of wrapping it in a cheesecloth & refrigerating it overnight to drain any excess water. Wake up the next morning. Take it out ‘da fridge & devour this rich & creamy cheese for breakfast!
NOW, tell me, would you like some BAGUETTE WITH THAT FROMAGE, mon cheri?
BEFORE YOU CAN TAKE OUT THAT BAGUETTE, let me tell you how to whip this wonderfulness up!
My loves, YOU WILL NEED:
- 1 cup of raw organic cashews, SOAKED according to instructions above;
- 2 tbsp. of nutritional yeast;
- 2 tbsp. of filtered water;
- 1 clove of garlic, MINCED;
- The juice of 1 organic lemon;
- 1 tsp. of organic white wine vinegar;
- 1/2 tsp. of sea salt;
- 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder;
- Freshly ground black pepper, TO TASTE;
- 1/2 tbsp. of dried basil;
- 1/2 tsp. of dried oregano;
- 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme;
- For garnish:
- Sea salt;
- Freshly ground black pepper;
- Dried parleys flakes;
- OPTIONAL: For some hot & spiciness, sprinkle some red pepper chilli flakes!
- Place the cashews in a bowl with about 2 cups of cool water. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate to allow the cashews to soak for 12 hours. If you can’t get to them right away, drain the babes, place them back in the bowl & cover with plastic wrap. They will keep refrigerated for 24-36 hours!
- Once soaked, drain the cashews completely & add them to a food processor, along with all the other ingredients.
- Process for 3-4 minutes or until VERY SMOOTH & CREAMY, scraping down the sides as needed! Taste & adjust the seasonings, if necessary!
- Add more lemon if you want tartness
- Nutritional yeast for cheesiness
- Garlic for a spark of zing
- Salt for flavour & balance!
- You can either devour the cheese as is (It will have more of a ricotta with chunks texture) OR:
- Place a fine mesh strainer (or colander) over a large mixing bowl & lay down a cheesecloth!
- Use a spatula to scoop all the cheese over the cheesecloth & then gather the corners & TWIST the top gently to form the cheese into a “disc”. Secure it with a rubber band or simply tie the cheesecloth into a knot (If you have extra cloth!).
- Place the CHEEEEEZE in the fridge & allow it to set for at least 6 hours, preferably 12, or until excess moisture has been drained & it holds its form when released from the cheesecloth!
- To serve, unwrap the cheese from the cloth & gently invert it onto a serving platter. You might have to reform it with hands or the cheesecloth as needed, coat it with a bit more sea salt, black pepper & dried parsley (&/or red pepper chilli flakes for some spice!), if you wish! IT’S FRAGILE, SO HANDLE IT WITH CARE!
- DEVOUR with crackers, veggies, in sandwiches, dollop it on top of soups, add it so salads, pastas & EVERYTHING ELSE! You simply cannot go wrong with this stuff!
- It will hold for 1-2 hours out of the fridge but is best when chilled!
- Leftovers? Keep well covered in fridge for up to 5 days!
P.S. If you’re in a rush, you can QUICK-SOAK the cashews by covering with boiling hot water & letting them soak for about 1.5-2 hours! You can then drain the babes & proceed with the recipe as instructed! Obviously the cheese is best when the cashews are soaked for a least 12 hours in cold water because the longer soaking allows the cashews to soften slowly, as opposed to being shocked, which will give you a softer & creamier cheese.