We’ve already touched upon the sublime deliciousness that is vegan cashew cheese, but why stop there?! So many vegan “cheeses” are stunningly delicious, and this incredible recipe come from my friend Jessica Moore (aka Jessicat); a personal vegan chef based in Montreal. It’s as gorgeous raw as it is baked, and can be used in as many different ways as you can imagine. My favorite way to use it is as a garnish for a salad of chopped parsley, green apples, and walnuts (drizzled liberally with olive oil), but the baked version is absolutely divine when scooped up on crackers while it’s all warm and soft.
Lazy Almond Feta Cheese
- 1 cup sliced raw almonds, as fresh as you can get them; blanched or unblanched
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, plus more to taste if you like things really lemony
- 2 tbsp good olive oil, plus more to drizzle over
- 1 largish clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh or dried rosemary for garnish (you can also add a pinch of thyme, if you like)
*Optional garnishes: Flaked salt, sliced olives, cracked black pepper, capers, crushed chili peppers, whatever you can dream up, really.
Soak the almonds in lukewam water on your kitchen counter for at least two hours: you’ll know they’re ready to use when they’re slightly soft and gummy around the edges. If you’d like to soak them for a longer period of time, keep them in the fridge while they’re bathing, but bring to room temperature before draining and processing.
Once drained, blend in a food processor or blender with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. If you find that it’s not blending well because it’s too thick, you can add water a teaspoon at a time until it blends smoothly. The less water you use the better, so try to add less than two tablespoons of it.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a shallow oven-safe baking/serving dish and scoop the mixture into it, using a spatula to spread it all around evenly. It’s generally better to use a shallow dish rather than a deep one, as the cheese will bake and dry out far more evenly. Bake for 3o-45 minutes, or until the mixture starts to brown. (If you prefer, you can also skip this step and just eat it raw; it’s just as decadent either way.) One benefit to baking the cheese is that warming it will bring out the olive notes, so feel free to warm it gently in a bain marie if you’d just like to enjoy the fragrance as well as a slight warmth.
To serve, drizzle it liberally with olive oil and sprinkle it with the rosemary and thyme, or any other garnishes you might like. The last time I made it, I sliced marinated garlic very thinly and added that as a topping, along with sliced black olives, sea salt, and some roasted red peppers. No, I didn’t share it.
This is a perfect little dish that can serve as a fancy little appetizer for a cocktail party, or made as a large batch for picnics and family get-togethers. Pair it with your favorite organic wine, some artisan bread or crackers, and some fresh fruit, and it’s an ideal light date night meal as well.