Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun Food Friday - Cashew Cheese Log

When people hear that we eat a plant-based diet, I almost always hear the same thing . . . "Wow, I could never give up cheese." Very few people talk about how they'd miss meat, milk or eggs. It's always the cheese. Or maybe it just seems that way because that's what I said for so long.

In fact, cheese was the last animal food we completely eliminated from our diet. Up until last year, we were completely vegan at home but would still have a little cheese from time to time if we were eating out. But now that we're completely cheese-free, I can honestly say that I don't miss it at all. Having it sporadically over the past few years, I got to see the affect it had on my body that I never noticed when I ate it all the time. And trust me, I don't miss the gastrointestinal distress one bit!

That said, the Sprouts do get super excited about vegan cheese or anything that remotely resembled cheese. And we all get super excited whenever I make the Pepper-Crusted Cashew Cheese recipe I discovered a few years ago in Vegetarian Times . . . which isn't often because I can't get past the guilt of making a recipe that consists almost solely of nuts and oil.

So recently, I decided to see if I could take a little of the guilt out of this favorite treat and still make it worth eating. I swapped the oil and water quantities so that it had 6 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of oil (rather than the opposite) and I left out the tahini, mostly because I didn't have any. I also shortened the prep time by quickly simmering the cashews rather than soaking them overnight.

The result, if I do say so myself, was phenomenal. Because the mixture was a little thinner to start, it blended more easily and ended up even creamier. Definitely a big hit with Sprouts of all sizes!!! Oh, and I had to use the original Vegetarian Times photo because I didn't get to photograph ours before the Sprouts dug into it.

Cashew Cheese Log

3/4 cup raw cashews
6 tablespoons water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt

1. Place cashews in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Drain the cashews, then put them in a food processor or blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend for 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

3. Spread mixture into a piece of cheesecloth, and shape into a 6" log. Wrap the cheesecloth around the log, then twist and tuck under the ends to secure. Place the wrapped log in a strainer and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 35 minutes. Chill, unwrap, serve and enjoy!

Sprout Ratings
Big Sprout - 5 sprouts
Little Sprout - 5 sprouts
Mama Sprout - 5 sprouts
Daddy Sprout - 5 sprouts

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