Cashew nut cheese is the classic vegan version of cheese. The subtle taste of the cashews, along with their soft texture when soaked, mean that they make a wonderfully creamy, soft cheese (and also cream). The mixture can then be flavoured – whether it’s with herbs, spices, or other ingredients to make delicious cheeses. I’ve used a recipe from Nicola Graimes’ new book New Vegetarian Kitchen, which I featured a few weeks ago and is full of inspirational and creative recipes for vegetarians, including this recipe for a trio of (dairy-free) cashew nut cheeses.
These cheeses are delicious just as they are, eaten with gluten-free bread or toast. But they’re also wonderful when added to a recipe. I made the herb one with rosemary instead of the suggested thyme, oregano or chives because I wanted to add it to a tomato-based pasta sauce I’d made to make it creamy, and wanted the strong rosemary flavour. The bland flavour of cashew nut cheese will work with a myriad of flavours, both subtle and strong – whatever you feel like trying!
Makes 3 different cheeses Preparation time 10 minutes
- 300g/10½oz/2 cups cashew nuts
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- a large pinch of smoked paprika
- 5 tbsp shelled pistachios, finely chopped
- 5 tbsp chopped mixed herbs, such as thyme, oregano and chives
- freshly ground black pepper
- Put the cashews in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to soak for at least 2 hours, then drain and transfer the cashews to a food processor or blender. Add 185ml/6fl oz/¾ cup water and blend into a coarse paste. (For a softer ‘cheese’, add a little more water and blend into a coarse purée.) Add the salt and season with pepper.
- Divide the nut cheese into 3 equal portions. Stir the garlic, lemon juice and paprika into 1 portion and spoon it into a ramekin. Put the chopped pistachios on a plate. Using your hands, divide another portion of the nut cheese into teaspoon-sized balls, then roll each ball in the pistachios until evenly coated. Roll the last portion of the nut cheese into a log and roll it in the herbs to coat.