Cashew cheese is a vegan cheese substitute. Although you can buy it if you are lucky enough to live near the sorts of shops that sell homemade allergy-friendly or vegan-friendly foods, this is easy to make yourself, and a lot cheaper. The end result of this particular recipe is vegan, gluten free and suitable for some low FODMAP diets (depending on your tolerance of cashews, you might be able to have a little or a lot).
Nutritional yeast is basically powdered umami. It triggers those happy tastebuds that crave cheese, soy sauce, vegemite or a stout beer. The combination of nutritional yeast, cashews and smoked paprika creates something that hits the same flavour notes as a rich cheddar, the kind you use in a good mac'n'cheese.
- Soak the cashews for a few hours in enough water to cover.
- Drain the cashews and place in a food processor with the yeast, peppercorns and salt. Process until the nuts are about the size of the peppercorns
- Add a little water (say 40mL at a time) and continue to process, scraping the sides of the bowl and adding more water until you have something about the consistency of hummus.
- Check the taste and add salt, ground pepper, lemon juice to taste as well as the smoked paprika.
- Process again and check the consistency and taste. Add a little more flavour or water as needed.
- Transfer to a clean container and store in the fridge for a week or so.
I can't make the same recipe twice, so here are some variations you can try:
- Change the soaking time of the cashews for a different texture - the longer they soak, the softer they are and the creamier the end result. Some people use unsoaked cashews in this recipe for a grated parmesan substitute. The finer you grind the cashews, the more water they will soak up, and the longer you soak the cashews the less extra water you will need to add.
- Change the amount of water to get a relatively hard or soft end result. Adding more water can give you something more like a white sauce or creamy salad dressing texture. Less water gives a harder cheese, more like a hard cream cheese you could press in a mould, coat in herbs and serve with crackers at a party.
- Add crushed or dried garlic (not suitable for low FODMAP people!), or different herbs and spices. Fresh herbs will obviously mean the cheese doesn't keep very long, but if it tastes good enough that won't be a problem.
- Serve as a dip with crackers and vege sticks
- Spread on a sandwich as you would butter or cream cheese
- Vegan Welsh Rarebit
- Stir through pasta for a quick cheesy pasta sauce
- Heat, add a little water or almond milk, and pour over cauliflower instead of white sauce
- fry some diced bacon in lots of dairy free butter substitute (olive oil is also fine)
- take the pan off the heat and spoon in some cashew cheese
- add extra smoked paprika and nutritional yeast
- stir through some water or almond milk until the cashew cheese is the consistency of a thick sauce
- stir through pasta and enjoy!