vegansaurus!

08/10/2011

Recipes: homemade nacho and Italian-style cheeses!  »

Two recipes, one post! Though I love my vegan cheese in a jar, I also enjoy making my own condiments at home. Both of these cheeses are mostly raw, yet I always end up cooking with them. Added bonus—soy- and gluten-free!

Nacho cheese sauce
Ingredients
1 cup soaked cashews**
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup water
Juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic
2 bell peppers
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions
Blend together until completely smooth. I add a little bit of red chili pepper for some kick. I own a Vita-Mix, which completely pulverizes my cashews in a matter of seconds. This should work with a run-of-the-mill blender or food processor—so snobby! Sorry, I just can’t help it. If you still have chunks of cashews in your cheese, you can always strain it through a nut milk bag.

You can leave it as a raw sauce, or bake it onto something, even just heat it up on the stove and pour over some chips. Add jalapenos if you are so inclined.  My next venture is to leave out the spice and make mac ‘n’ cheese with it. 

I’ve used this cheese sauce on broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and enchiladas.

Cheesy Brussels sprouts!


Cheesy broccoli!


Enchiladas!

Italian-style cashew cheese
Ingredients
1 cup soaked cashews
3/4 cup water
Juice of half a lemon
4 cloves of garlic (you may want to start with 2)
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper)
1/2 tsp. Italian herbs

Instructions
Put water and cashews into a food processor/blender/Vita-Mix, and blend until smooth. Add the rest of your ingredients, all EXCEPT Italian herbs. Taste. Want more zip? Add more lemon juice. I end up using about a teaspoon of salt, and probably between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Too thick? Add a little more water. Once you get your base right, add Italian herbs. Blend them ever so slightly, just until incorporated; you don’t want them to break down too much and turn your cheese green!

There you have it. Soy-free, gluten-free, fresh vegan mozzarella. Or whatever you want to call it. I LOVE this stuff! I use it on all my veganized “Italian” food—pizza, eggplant “parmesan,” plain old pasta. It is amazing!


The cheese comes out so fancy if you have a squeeze bottle!


My eggplant “parmesan,” or as I like to call it, cheesy Italian eggplant casserole. Want this recipe? I give out all my secrets after a couple rounds of cocktails—on you!

**Soak 3/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews for at least six hours—covered, at room temperature—but best if overnight, in a container with a lid in the fridge. If you are short on time, you can boil the cashews on medium-high for about 15 to 20 minutes, until cashews are soft.

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