Friday, March 25, 2011

Cashew "Cheese"

I’m a bit nutty and that might be why I like nuts so much. While I’ve eaten them my whole life, I never went far beyond the peanut until the past five or so years. Sure, I would consume mixed nuts at a party, but I never used them in cooking. Along the way, they became a larger part of my diet. Early on, I'm not sure I realized the wonderful nutritional benefits that they offered, such as omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols, and so on. They are also rich in unsaturated fats, unlike milk, eggs, and meat ( Unless you are allergic, there is no reason they shouldn’t be a normal part of your diet.

Cashews are among my favorite nut and if I don’t watch myself, I can eat too many in one sitting. While nuts are healthful, they contain fat and I try not to consume an overabundance of fat in my diet. This is pretty easy since I’m vegan!

Some of my favorite ways to enjoy cashews is to add to cooked dishes, granola, oatmeal, and cereals. Every once and a while, I want the cashew to be the star of the show and when that is the case I dine on cashew cheese. There are probably hundreds of recipes for cashew cheese and if I repeat one here, it is by coincidence only. I’ve combined elements of cashew cheeses that I’ve had in the past to come up with the following recipe. I served it at a recent event and it was a hit!

Cashew Cheese
  • 2 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours (if you need them quicker, you can go with at least 30 minutes)
  • ¼ cup of water- use more or less depending on consistency.
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • Tahini to taste
  • ½ tsp of salt or less to taste- I prefer less
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Pinch of chili powder
Drain the cashews and place them into the bowl of the food processor along with the clove of garlic and nutritional yeast. Pour half of the water, lemon juice, tahini, and blend. Add more water as needed for consistency and more lemon juice for taste. When it has almost reached the desired consistency add the ground pepper, salt, paprika, and chili powder. Give the cheese a final blend while being careful not to over process. The cheese should be smooth with texture. Taste and add more spices as needed.

Chill for about a half hour, or until ready to use. Serve with gluten free crackers or vegetables and enjoy!

1 comment:

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