Sundried Tomato Basil Vegan Nut Cheese
Although I'm not vegan, I try not to overdo it on dairy because it just doesn't agree with my stomach in large quantities (which is REALLY hard sometimes, given that I absolutely love cheese). Enter vegan nut cheese. This delicious spreadable cheese is made from soaking cashews and then adding a pinch of spices and fresh herbs for a yummy, sharp cheese-like texture that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. I am skeptical of "vegan cheeses" available for purchase at the store because they're loaded with artificial ingredients and additives, and are often too plastic-like for my taste, so this easy homemade recipe is a no brainer for me when I'm looking for a plant-based cheese.
It's great spread on crackers like Triscuits or Wheat Thins, or even enjoyed with veggie sticks. You can either soak the cashews over night, or if you’re short on time, soak them in boiling hot water for 2 hours. The key for getting a cheesy flavor is the nutritional yeast flakes (I use Bragg’s brand). I also used walnut oil for this recipe to give it an extra nutty flavor, but olive oil would work well too.
• 1 ½ cups cashews
• 3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• ½ cup sundried tomatoes in water, roughly chopped
• 2 Tbs. fresh basil, roughly chopped
• 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
• 2 Tbs. walnut oil*
• ¼ cup of water
• ½ cup slivered almonds, sesame seeds, or chia seeds for garnish and rolling
1. Begin by soaking cashews in water overnight (cover completely with water in a bowl and place saran wrap over the top). However, if you’re short on time, you can boil some water and pour it over the cashews, soaking for 1-2 hours or until soft enough to be blended
2. Add the cashews and all ingredients except the slivered almonds or sesame seeds to a food processor or hand-held blender. Pulse until a spreadable consistency forms. If you need to add a little water to help mix, add 1 tablespoon at a time. This will be a bit sticky.
3. Gently shape the nut mixture into a log or ball. Roll in sesame seeds, slivered almonds, or both. This is optional, but will give the cheese ball a more appealing look.
4. Wrap in parchment paper and place in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour. It should firm up. Serve with veggies or crackers. Will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.