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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cashew Cheese - Cheddar Style (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Most people when confronted with the change from vegetarian to vegan claim they could never give up cheese. This is not really where I want to get into that statement so much as to offer alternatives to cheese that are not only soy-free, but tasty and will also melt. The below recipe is kid approved - we had a taco bar party and there were at least 10 kids ages 18 months to 6 years. All the kids and the parents loved the cheese, and at long last, here is the recipe to share as requested.

Cheddar Style Vegan Cheese (adapted from The Uncheese Cookbook)
1 1/2 cups water
2 T agar powder (get this from the Asian market or you will pay way too much for it)

4 oz jar of pimiento pieces, drained (this lends flavor and color - if you do not like the taste, you can subsititute 2 T tomato paste
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
juice of 1 large lemon
2 T tahini
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp mustard powder

  1. Place the water and agar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often and making sure to stir down the sides of the saucepan
  3. Place in high-powered blender with the remaining ingredients and process until completely smooth
  4. Pour immediately into a lightly oiled 3 cup loaf pan
  5. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight
  6. To serve, take a slim knife around the edges of the loaf pan, and turn out of the mold. You can now slice, grate or cube this cheese as you would any other cheese.
Yields One 3-cup brick

As an alternative, for a liquid sauce (great for mac & cheese or topped on baked potatoes) skip steps 1 and 2 and just blend the mixture with approximately 1 cup of water until the cheese sauce is the consistency you want.

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