Though not strictly vegan, I do eat vegan the majority of the time. A funny thing people say to me when talking about my diet is ‘Oh I could never give up cheese!!’ And yeah, I remember feeling the same way when I used to eat cheese on a daily basis. What I didn’t realize then was that cheese literally IS addictive. One of the proteins in cheese, casein, stimulates the opioid receptors in the brain…so you can understand why people struggle to give up cheese!
I went completely vegan for a period of time, long enough to break my addiction, and learned to make creamy substitutes with nuts, coconut milk etc. Now I have zero desire for cheese, and actually prefer the vegan alternatives. This probiotic vegan cheese recipe actually evolved from a probiotic dip that I frequently make for my probiotics classes, and everyone goes wild for.
This version has been ‘aged’ so that it takes on much more of a cheese-like flavour, to the point that most people assume that it actually is dairy based. It’s super easy, full of probiotics, and bound to please both vegans and non-vegans, and can be a great way to use up your extra brine from your lacto-fermented vegetables (there is another starter you can use if you don’t make LF veggies, see recipe).
First you want to soak your cashews ahead of time, rinse and drain, and then blend in the blender with the least amount of brine you can get away with, but still make it smooth and creamy.
Next, add your chopped herbs and then blend for a few seconds to combine. (If you overdo it here, things will start looking green from the pureed herbs…still tastes ok, just not as pretty).
Now to age it. Stick it somewhere warm for 24-48 hours, until it reaches the desired taste. I put it in my oven with the oven light on. If putting it on your counter, then cover with cheese cloth or a dishtowel to keep bugs out. When it has thickened and tastes to your liking, then refrigerate until it thickens to a spreadable consistency. If you really want something firm (like pictured), you can wrap it in cheese cloth and put in a strainer with something heavy on top for a day or so.
Use on crackers, sandwiches, or as a vegetable dip…or anyplace else you would use soft cheeses. Will keep in the fridge at least 10 days.
- 2 c cashews, soaked 6-12 hours, rinsed and drained
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
- 6-8 tbsp brine from lacto-fermented vegetables (if you don't make fermented veggies you can make a starter called rejuvelac that will work in place of brine in this recipe)
- 2 heaping tbsp chives, finely chopped
- 1 heaping tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
- Add cashews, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and lemon juice to blender and 6 tbsp brine. Blend until smooth. If your blender needs a little help then slowly add up to another 2 tbsp brine. Add salt, to taste. Once smooth, add chopped chives and dill and blend for a couple seconds, just to combine.
- Spoon mixture into a glass bowl and set somewhere warm for 24-48 hours to 'age'. (I used the oven with the oven light on, but if you leave it out somewhere then just cover with cheesecloth). When the taste is what you like, then place in fridge for a day to harden to a spreadable cheese consistency (it will likely develop a bit of a skin on top, just stir it in).
- If you want really firm cheese, then at this point you can wrap in several layers of cheesecloth and put over a strainer with something heavy on top (a full large jar works well) and let sit for another day.
- Will keep in the fridge at least 10 days.