How To: Raw Vegan Cheese

Don’t turn away just yet.  I know this sounds like an anomaly, and perhaps it is.  But, with the increasing number of folks out there that avoid dairy for due to allergies, ethical, or health reasons, but still crave that creamy, tangy, cheese flavor, this just might be the closest thing you will ever find.

A few weeks ago, at Whole Foods, I helped host a book signing with Raw Foods Author and Chef, Alissa Cohen, where we featured her book Raw Food For Everyone.

Her talk was very informative, and while I wasn’t 100% convinced on making the raw foods shift, I did find myself re-creating many of her delicious and flavorful recipes.  Hence my week long experiment of making vegan cheese.

Now, there are plenty of vegan cheeses you can find on the market, but most of them are oil-based, and unnecessarily so I might add.  They are loaded with binders, and preservatives, to make them look and melt like real cheese.  What I love about Alissa’s recipes is that all of her “cheeses” are made from nuts, herbs, and spices that are blended and strained, or fermented, in a way to make their flavor profile close to that of real cheese, while providing you with all of the nutritional benefits and healthy fats from whatever nut or seed you are using.

The cheese that I made is a fairly standard spreadable “cheese”, very similar to ricotta.  Now, there are two ways you can go about making this cheese.  The first is fast, and the second is slow.  That being said, the slow process definitely had a tangier, and more believable cheese-like flavor.  It just depends on how far you want to take it!

Quick Cheese (best use to top pastas, pizzas, or fill ravioli)

from http://www.AlissaCohen.com

1 cup pine nuts
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup walnuts
6 t Nama Shoyu (similar to soy sauce, which can be substituted)
8 t lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 cup parsley

Blend the pine nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts in a food processor until ground. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well, until creamy.

Slow Cheese

The reason this cheese takes so long, is because you have to create a fermenting liquid called rejuvelac.  Rejuvelac is created by sprouting and fermenting a grain (I used wheat berries), such as brown rice, barley, wheat berries, or rye berries.  The grains must be whole, and raw.

Step 1:  Take 1 cup wheat berries, and soak in 3 cups water overnight.

Step 2:  Drain the wheat berries, and keep them in an aerated jar.  Rinse and drain 3-5x/day, for 3 days, until sprouted and little tails form on the grain.

Step 3:  Take the wheat berries and soak them in a gallon of water overnight.  Then, strain and discard the wheat berries, but save the liquid.  The remaining liquid is rejuvelac.  This will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

To make the Cheese:

Soak 2 cups of nuts (I used macadamia), in 1 cup of rejuvelac for 8 hours.

In a blender, puree nuts and rejuvelac, with 1 tsp of salt until smooth.  Place mixture in a cheese-cloth lined strainer.  Fold the cheese cloth over the mixture and place a weight (such as a bottle of water) over the cloth, and let the excess liquid strain over night.  Remove the remaining product out of the cheese cloth, and behold, you have raw, vegan, cheese.  Perfect for topping pastas, stuffing raviolis, or as I did, using on a pizza.

In the pizza pictured above, I used a a sprouted black bean pizza dough (found at Whole Foods), rolled it out and let it bake for 15 minutes.  Then, I topped it with the “cheese”, apples, dried turkish figs, arugula, and a balsamic reduction.  Most people who tried it, didn’t even realize it wasn’t real cheese!

Anybody else use other substitutes for cheese or cream?

Comments
One Response to “How To: Raw Vegan Cheese”
  1. Laurie says:

    OK, I have tried some of these “cheese substitutes” in the past and been disappointed. I am going to try the “quick” one and report back! Love all your healthy news…….

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