Thanks to their smooth, spongy texture, cashews can form the basis of cheeses, milks or cream. A blank canvas with a delicate flavor, cashew cheeses can be enhanced with savory herbs, spices, or extracts. Or, consider sweeter cream cheese or ricotta-style preparations, where chopped dried fruits or a drizzle of maple syrup will make cashew cheese a perfect addition to breakfast or brunch.
The vegan cheese market as a whole has grown considerably in the last few years, with many delicious commercial cashew cheese products available. I recently sampled several items from Treeline, a nut cheese company based in upstate New York that makes products like a cracked pepper hard cheese, and an herb-garlic french style soft cheese. They were delicious (pretty packaging, too) and are pleasing dairy and non-dairy lovers alike.
There are so many ways to enjoy cashew cheese. This soft, spreadable style is perfect on crackers or sandwiches, as a dip for vegetables, or a topping for pizzas and salads. Or, it can be melted into a sauce when combined with nut milk.
To make your own cashew cheese, the raw cashews need to be soaked for 6 hours along with a pinch of salt prior to using. This makes them easier to digest, and some say it helps improve their taste.
- 1½ c raw cashews, presoaked in water and pinch of salt for 6 hours, or overnight
- ½ t garlic powder
- 1 T olive oil
- ¼ c sundried tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ c nutritional yeast
- ½ t salt
- ½ t lemon juice
- ½ t tabasco sauce
- 2 c fresh basil leaves
- In a food processor, process cashews for 2 minutes, scraping the sides to ensure they're being evenly broken down.
- Add in garlic powder, olive oil, sundered tomatoes, nutritional yeast, salt, tabasco, lemon juice and basil leaves. Process until smooth.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve chilled or at room temperature with crackers or crudités.