Basic Raw Cashew Cheese

Recipe
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  • Vegetarian
    Vegetarian
  • Vegan
    Vegan
  • Raw
    Raw
  • Dairy Free
    Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
    Gluten Free
  • Egg Free
    Egg Free
  • Soy Free
    Soy Free
  • Blender
    Blender
  • Processor
    Processor

My father always tells me that happiness is tied up in expectations. If you keep your expectations in a realistic place, you are less likely to be disappointed. I have found this advice to be true in all aspects of life; and I offer it up today when making this cashew cheese. Don’t get me wrong -- this spread is absolutely scrumptious. But if you turn on your food processor expecting this to taste exactly like cheese made from cow’s milk, you might be a little disappointed. Conversely, if you think of it as a raw vegan allergy free alternative to dairy cheeses, or a delicious vegan spread to flavor dishes, you will be thrilled with the results.

People dipping into this “vegan cashew cheese” usually say the same thing when they come up for air - “Oh yum, this is delicious. But it doesn’t taste like cheese”. I should call it cashew spread. Then it would happily be accepted without judgement for the delectable treat that it is. Unlike my vanilla cashew cream and honey cashew cream, which taste pretty close to dairy cream, and have fooled many a cream dreamer at dessert time; I like to think of this cashew cheese as an “alternative” to conventional dairy cheese, rather than a “substitute” meant to replicate the taste and texture exactly.

For those of you not familiar with raw food -- pureed nuts and water are used to make what is commonly referred to as “cheese”. A variety of nuts and seeds are used with different herbs, spices and seasonings. These “nut cheeses” serve as a way of adding a creamy flavor and texture to raw vegan dishes. You can use raw almonds, raw macadamias, raw pine nuts, raw sunflower seeds and raw sesame seeds to make a myriad of raw vegan “cheeses”. But I find that cashews yield the best results when making neutral flavored spreads; and it is a favorite for most raw foodies and vegans making dairy alternatives.

“Oh, Happy Day” when I can throw cashews into any blend! They serve as a fabulous blank canvas begging for creativity and personality. This very basic cashew cream cheese is another example of this; and serves as a wonderful starting point for those of you who have never made raw vegan nut cheeses. There are hundreds of simple raw recipes out there using a base of cashews and filtered water. Just throw these two things into your blender or food processor and add any herbs, spices and sweeteners for different flavors. The sky is the limit. I have listed some quick and easy ideas underneath the basic recipe to get you started. I like to add lemon juice and nutritional yeast for a slight cheesy flavor with a bit of tang. If you want a really zesty cheese, add in some lemon zest as well. My penchant for garlic always sees me throwing a few cloves in for good measure. You can add in a little more nutritional yeast if you want a cheesier flavor; but too much will result in an undesirable after-taste. Blend and taste!

I typically like a rustic consistency for my cheeses, and normally use my food processor for greater control. But you can also use your blender. Just use the pulse setting or you will end up with cream! I like to keep this cashew spread the consistency of hummus or ricotta. It is like a cream cheese that is fantastic served on raw tacos, fajitas, veggie burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads. It also makes a phenomenal dip served with vegetable sticks. It will keep in a sealed glass container in the fridge for about 5 days. There is always some cashew cheese in my fridge begging to be slathered!

Blend up some raw nut spreads next time you want to get cheesy – all expectations aside, you won’t be disappointed.

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Basic Raw Cashew Cheese

Basic Raw Cashew Cheese

Makes 1 Cup5 MINS
  • 2 cups raw cashews soaked in filtered water for 2 – 4 hours (soaking is optional)
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup filtered water as needed for desired consistency
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 to 4 cloves fresh garlic minced (depending on preference)
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)

For a different flavor omit the nutritional yeast, garlic and 1/2 of the lemon juice from the basic recipe and try adding and making:

Herb cheese:

  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

Tomato basil cheese:

  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Chive cheese:

Chili cheese:

  • 1 – 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • a pinch of red chili flakes or chopped fresh chili

or

  • 1 – 2 tablespoons freshly chopped fresh flat parsley
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle or 1/2 finely chopped jalapeno pepper or 1 serrano chile

Sweet cheese:

Truffle cheese:

Sesame cheese:

  1. Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, 1/2 of the water, 1/2 of the lemon juice, garlic and sea salt in the food processor and pulse until roughly blended.
  2. Gradually add in more lemon juice, garlic and salt to taste. I have listed granulated garlic as optional. I find this is a nice touch if you like a garlicky cheese.
  3. Transfer the cheese to a bowl, and stir through the parsley (if using).

I like my cheese the consistency of ricotta. The more water you add, the creamier and thinner the cheese will become. Add less water for a thicker, more rustic cheese. Find your perfect blend.

The possibilities are endless, so have fun with it!

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