Say “Cheese”! A cheese ball for grown up parties

Cheeseball.jpg

As I considered becoming a vegan, the thought of giving up cheese forever was off putting, to say the least. I tried many commercially produced vegan cheese products. I didn’t like them. So I explored making my own nut-based cheese. And now? Now I’ve punched my ticket to the vegan side of town!

This cheese ball is not a lot of work, but it does take a bit of planning. The cashews have to soak and the cheese needs to sit and firm up before being rolled into a ball. If you know company is coming, start this cheese ball the day before.

CheeseballSliced

Ingredients

1 ½ cups raw cashew pieces – soaked in water in the refrigerator for 8 hours

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (NOT in oil), cut into small pieces. Soak these with the cashews in the water. The brighter and redder the sun-dried tomatoes are, the brighter and orangier the final cheese. You can see that my sun-dried tomatoes were quite brown.

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp sherry (optional but yes… you’re keeping sherry in the kitchen at all times, right?)

1 ½ Tbsp miso – I used a deep brown-rice miso and got a browner cheese. You can go with a milder miso.

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp mustard powder

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp turmeric

Pinch of cayenne (optional)

¼ cup unrefined coconut oil warmed to a liquid.

Walnut or pecan pieces or slivered almonds for rolling your cheese ball in. You’ll need about 2/3 of a cup. You could add thyme or sage to the mixed nuts too for colour.

Directions

Drain the cashew/sun-dried tomatoes. Place them and all the other ingredients EXCEPT the nuts for rolling the cheese ball in into a high speed blender or food processor. For this recipe, I find the blender is better.

Blend on high until you have a smooth, paste-like mixture. You can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if you think the mixture is too thick (i.e. the motor on your blender is smoking), but be patient. The longer you blend, the smoother the mixture will be. You will need to spoon down the sides a couple times too to make sure everything’s well incorporated.

Place the paste into a container with a cover and let it sit refrigerated for 4-6 hours. You will be convinced that you will never be able to roll the pastey glop you’ve created into ball have faith. You will!

After 4-6 hours, remove the mixture from the fridge and roll it into a ball. You can serve as is, or roll in crushed/slivered nuts or herbs. Keep this cheese chilled until you’re ready to serve it since the coconut oil will go liquid at warmer room temperatures.

Slice this baby up and enjoy with crackers and olives, wine and friends. Enjoy!

 

With few exceptions, this recipe is based on the recipe in the excellent Vedged Out blog. Here’s the link.

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Creamy, sundried tomato and almond pasta

SundriedTomatoPasta

I was definitely built for long-term survival! While other people have a sweet tooth, I have a fat tooth. This pasta dish satisfies my love for creamy, rich sauces and yet is completely plant based and healthy. Oh, it’s delicious, fast and easy too. Does it get any better??

Ingredients

12 oz uncooked pasta (I used farfalle pasta)

½ cup sundried tomatoes (mine are not oil packed)

¼ cup raw almonds

¼ cup almond butter

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp sea salt

A few grinds black pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil (omit if you’re using oil-packed sundried tomatoes)

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup fresh basil torn in pieces

Directions

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil (or microwave it) and put the sundried tomatoes in the broth to soak for about 10 minutes.

Cook your pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, put all the other ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a thick, creamy sauce. Yes. It’s that easy.

Drain the cooked pasta and put in a large bowl. Toss with the sauce.

Additions: If I have cherry tomatoes, I sometimes throw a few in the blender for an even tomato-i-er flavour.

I think this dish would be great with a couple handfuls of chopped fresh spinach or kale added to the pasta pot right before draining the noodles (just enough to blanch the greens).

I love this dish with broccoli and peas.

This recipe is my mildly modified version of the recipe from Laura Machell.