My discovery of homemade vegan cheese turned my perceptions of vegan diet upside down. There are so many reasons to avoid cow milk (I’ve mentioned them in a previous post), and so many reasons to love the taste of dairy cheese…While substituting cow milk with delicious nut milk was not a big deal, eradicating dairy completely from my diet didn’t even cross my mind. But now, I find myself drastically reducing my consumption of “conventional” cheese. And it’s not even a sacrifice for me, but pleasure.

Only a few ingredients and a pinch of imagination and you could create the best cheese you’ve ever tasted. With no cow milk at all.

Cashew Cheese with herbs (spreadable)

Cashew is one ingredient that is employed in most vegan cheese recipes. And the other is nutritional yeast. The first – for its creamy texture, the latter – for its cheesy taste. Another precious ingredient that you’ll often find in dairy-free cheese recipes is agar agar used to thicken the mixture, making the final product sliceable.

Agar agar is an interesting substance, I admit I had never used before and even heard about it. It is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin, obtained from red algae. It is derived from the polysaccharide agarose, which forms the supporting structure in the cell walls of algae. Polysaccharide agarose is released on boiling.

Homemade vegan cheese

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teacup raw cashews
  • 1 teacup water
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • To taste Himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp agar powder
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • Herbs/ spices (I’ve also experimented adding chopped red pepper, it’s delicious!)
  • Sesame

Preparation

homemade vegan cheese - soaking raw cashews

Step 1. Soak raw cashews overnight.

Step 2. Mix all ingredients except herbs in the blender jar. Blend until smooth. If you experiment with red pepper, you might add it at this stage or in the next step, in case you prefer more texture.

Homemade vegan cheese with herbs recipe

Step 3. Pour the mixture into a medium size pan, non-sticky and preheated. Add herbs, fresh or dried. Let it boil for 3-5 minutes until it thickens. Stir all the time with a wooden spatula.

Homemade vegan cheese - cashew and herbs

Step 4. Transfer to a glass dish, or a glass container in the shape of your choice. I figured using a glass container makes it easier to take out later since it just slips out with a tiny bit of help. Tip: You could place it in a cheese cloth to let any excess water run out. Let it cool for about an hour in the fridge.

Step 5. Take out of the container by carefully using your fingertips. I put it on parchment paper for a while to absorb any water left. You could add some more herbs on top or sesame.

Step 6. Cut and spread the love toward vegan cheese ;). It goes perfectly with roast, pancakes, vegan omelettes or even salad. It has a perfect creamy texture, nutty flavor but not excessive, slightly tart taste, and all hints blend in a delicious bite. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to finish taking those pictures, so that I could finally enjoy a bite…or more…!

Notes

I used the basic ingredients and principle of this recipe to create the cream for a wonderful fruit-rich cheesecake. Use your imagination and share with us your creations :)!

Homemade Zucchini Cheese

Sounds weird, right? But it exists. I’ve tried this recipe once and, though, I wouldn’t trade my new favorite Cashew cheese for it, I think it deserves spreading the word. Because, as we all know, there are many people allergic to nuts, just like those allergic to cow milk, and this is an interesting vegan cheese substitute containing no major allergens. Besides, if you don’t quite like the pure zucchini cheese you could adjust the recipe with a flavor of your choice – like adding cauliflower, dill, parsley, red pepper. Be free to experiment.

Thanks to the author of this recipe for sharing this secret to the world. I’ve used agar agar instead of gelatin (as it is recommended in the original recipe) because I wanted to make this vegan. It definitely doesn’t set the way it does with gelatin – it is more spreadable and soft, more jelly-like than firm. I’ve also added nutritional yeast but I think its taste prevails too much and does not allow you to feel the richness of other ingredients. 

zucchini cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 cups zucchini or summer squash, about 1 small-medium zucchini, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsn nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 Tsp agar agar
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • 1 dairy-free probiotic capsule (optional)
  • 1 carrot, fine diced (optional – if you want ‘cheddar’ color)

Preparation

homemade zucchini cheese

Step 1. Slice the zucchinis to cubes, bring water to a boil, add the zucchinis and carrots (on bottom) if you go for the color. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat.

Step 2. Add all ingredients to the blender jar. Blend until smooth. For additional set, I poured the mixture back in the same pan I simmered vegetables, still heated, and boiled the mixture for 3 minutes. Don’t forget to stir all the time.

Step 3. Pour the mixture into a non-sticky pan, I used a glass bowl alternatively. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours to set. Slice and enjoy. Add to salads or spread to toasts. Note: I’ve added sesame (on pic) because I love how it fits the taste. But if you have any allergies, don’t do that.

Sources:

Recipe adaptation after:
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/cashew-herb-cheese/

For more great cheese recipes:

http://www.chooseveg.com/11-vegan-cheese-recipes-that-will-change

http://nutritionstripped.com/classic-cashew-cheese/

http://www.foodnetwork.ca/healthy-eating/blog/making-vegan-cheese-at-home-easier-than-you-think/

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/sliceable-vegan-cashew-cheese/

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/cashew-herb-cheese/

Raw nut cheese

http://www.nathalielawhead.com/candybox/lacto-fermentation-raw-vegan-cheese-making-and-more

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