When successful, almond feta cheese is truly the stuff of vegan dreams.
What’s the deal with vegan cheese?
If you’ve never tried plant-based cheese before, don’t be so quick to turn up your nose. Vegan connoisseurs are using a medley of ingredients including cashews, sunflower seeds, hemp, macadamia nuts, tofu, and coconut to cook up unbelievable cheese-like concoctions that taste just like, if not arguably even better, than the real thing.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that there is a vegan cheese craze sweeping the foodie community. We’re seeing plant-based mozzarellas, goudas, boursins, cheese sauces, and more. They’re coming sliceable, grate-able, and every bit as satisfying.
Why almond feta?
This almond cheese is a great starter for your first plant-based cheese through its simplicity and versatility. The almond-based cheese straddles the line between feta and chevre cheese. You can opt for a more feta-like consistency by sticking it in the oven for 40 minutes, where it will harden into a creamy and more crumbly texture. Or, if you choose to not bake it, you’ll have a smooth, spreadable cheese.
Our recipe calls for added herbed oil, to drizzle over top before serving, ideally as an appetizer with crackers, and whatever else you’d include on your spread. However, this cheese also shines when crumbled into salads, spread into sandwiches, sprinkle in pizza, pasta, or anywhere else you’re looking to add some cheesy goodness.
Whether you’re curious about vegan cheese because you follow a vegan diet, are looking follow a more plant-based routine, or are simply up for something different, you won’t be disappointed.
What you need:
1 cup whole blanched almonds
¼ cup lemon juice
3 Tbs. plus ¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
How to prepare:
- In a medium bowl, place almonds and cover with 3 inches of cold water. Let almonds soak in water for 24 hours, then drain and rinse under cold water.
- In a food processor, purée almonds with lemon juice, 3 Tbs. olive oil, garlic, salt, and ½ cup cold water. Process for 3-6 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.
- Line a strainer with three layers of cheesecloth, and place the strainer over top a bowl. Spoon the almond mixture in the cheesecloth, then use the cheesecloth to squeeze out excess moisture into the bowl below. Use your hands to form the almond mixture into a ball, then use an elastic band or twine to secure the cheesecloth around the cheese and hold it in form. Chill for 12 hours or overnight.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 200°F. Unwrap cheese, and transfer it to baking sheet. Flatten it slightly to form a 6-inch round (should be about 3/4 -inch thick. Bake for 40 minutes, or until top is firm to the touch. Cool, then chill and keep refrigerated.
- To make herb oil: combine remaining ¼ cup oil, thyme, and rosemary in a small saucepan. Keep heat at medium-low for 2 minutes, making it hot but not to the point of simmering. Reduce heat, and cool to room temperature. Drizzle oil over cheese just before serving.
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