Last blog we talked about why you should ditch cheese and dairy for good. I know I didn't make any new friends among you non-vegans with that one. But that's okay. I kind of have the whole medical and scientific community behind me when I reiterate that diary is not good for you and for many, it's absolutely dangerous to your health.
Look at Bill Clinton. In 2004 he underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Yet he never changed his diet. Fast-forward 6 years to when he had to go back in for emergency heart surgery after waking up with severe chest pains. This time, he listened to his doctor and made a lifestyle change by going to a mostly vegan diet. While he still eats some fish, he is otherwise plant based and eats no dairy at all. He is now fifty pounds lighter and going strong. He is a prime example that you don't have to be all or nothing with veganism and being healthy.
Yeah, I know you love dairy. Never mind the milk; I know you don't think you could ever survive without cheese. Frankly, most people are more passionate about their cheese than they are about their spouse. I get that. But let me assure you that there is life after cheese.
What if I told you that with just a few simple ingredients, you could make your own soft non-dairy (non-dairy makes it seem less scary than vegan) cheese? The only negative part about it is that you have to plan ahead to make this. Although you are only actively spending about 10 minutes making the cashew cheese, the prep time is about 36 hours. Time's a wasting so let's get started.
In a bowl or jar, soak your raw cashews in water for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
After they have soaked the required time, drain and rinse the raw cashews and transfer to your food processor. Before you start making the cheese, mince your fresh herbs. I like to use dill, parsley and chives, however use your own favorites. Or go crazy and create your own add-in recipe. Maybe you like sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. Or dried cranberries and cracked black pepper. If you do create a particularly yummy add-in combination, make sure to share it with the rest of us in the comment section below.
Now you add the rest of the ingredients into the food processor (except your fresh herbs—don't add them now or you will end up with green cheese) and process for about a minute, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times during this process. Transfer to a small bowl or just take the blade out of your food processor and spoon mix in the fresh herbs.
Next cut about a foot section of cheesecloth and line a soup bowl with it. Scoop your cashew cheese into the middle and draw up the edges of the cheesecloth, twisting the ends to form a ball.
Place a fine sieved strainer on top of a bowl to set the cheesecloth ball in to drain. Refrigerate for 12 hours, allowing moisture to drain from the cheese through the strainer, into the bowl.
In the end, it doesn't drain more than about a tablespoon of moisture, but boy does it make a difference. What I am telling you is don't skip that step! You will be rewarded with a beautiful ball of fresh herb soft cashew cheese that will absolutely give your favorite chevre goat cheese spread a run for the money.
Seriously creamy and delicious, with that bit of sharp flavor that dairy cheese has. Spread it on crackers, cucumber rounds, or on your sandwich for lunch. You can use this soft cashew cheese just as you would a soft goat cheese spread. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 days. Like it's going to last that long...enjoy!
Time: 10 minutes active and 36 hours passive preparation time
1 1/2 c. raw cashews
3 c. water
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. course black pepper
2 tbsp. minced combined fresh herbs of choice (dill, parsley, chives) or flavors of choice
In a jar, soak raw cashews in water for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Drain, rinse and add to food processor.
Blend the drained cashews and the rest of the ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in your food processor for approximately one minute, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times.
Transfer to a bowl and hand mix in the minced fresh herbs.
In a soup bowl, lay out a piece of cheesecloth about a foot long and scoop the cashew cheese into the center. Bring the ends up and twist to form a tight ball. Set in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and put in the refrigerator to drain over 12 hours. Should yield approximately a tablespoon of moisture to throw out.
Unwrap your cashew cheese from the cheesecloth and serve with a vegetable crudite or gluten-free vegan crackers.
Will keep fresh in your refrigerator in an airtight container for 5 days.