When I first thought about making vegan cheese, I figured it was super crazy complicated, would require kitchen equipment I couldn’t afford and take ingredients that were so exotic as to be inaccessible. I might even have to sacrifice a head of lettuce to Demeter, Greek goddess of the harvest.
And I’ll admit, part of the thing that keeps me on the vegetarian side of the plate and not vegan is cheese. Nuts, grains and soy are my go-to meat substitutes— but I just haven’t found a good cheese substitute. The commercial ones I’ve tried, well, have always lacked something.
But I love this stuff. It has a great flavor on its own— and a wonderful mouth-feel.
The recipe is not my own creation, but this blogger’s, Vegan Epicurean.
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/3 bar of agar
1 1/2 cup water
If you’re wondering what agar is (I know I did, when I saw it on the list) it’s a type of gelatin made of vegetation. I used Eden’s. The original recipe calls for the powder, and I’ve also seen agar sold in flakes. Since the agar’s only job is to thicken the cheese, I say to try whichever type your local health food store carries.
1. Bring some water to a boil, then turn the heat to simmer and add the agar. Simmer the agar for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the agar, you don’t want it to gel too early.
2. While the agar is simmering, blend the spices and cashews in a blender. I would taste it at this point, to see if you need to add more spices.
3. Once the agar has been fully incorporated into the water, pour it into the blender with the spice and nut blend.
4. Blend the nuts and agar together.
5. Pour the cheese into a heat proof container— like a Pyrex dish or a small, nonstick baking pan.
6. Let the cheese cool for an hour before putting it into the refrigerator.
7. Let it refrigerate overnight before eating.
Voila! A unique, flavorful food you can substitute for cheese. You can play around with the spice blend to find one you like, though it does get its color from the turmeric and cayenne.
The cashews were blended in my aging, circa-1980s beige blender. Also, I didn’t use raw cashews— but if you do buy pre-roasted ones, make sure that they’re unsalted.