Thursday, April 14, 2011

The many uses of Cashew Cheese

You guys know I've been playing around with ground cashew cheese. You could also call it fermented cashew butter. Or cultured nut puree. Starting with this recipe, and being inspired by HHL's techniques and experiments, I've added lemon, tons of roasted garlic, a little agave, and a bit more nutritional yeast. No nutmeg for moi, as well.

And since I can't handle Daiya (just tooooo weird and processed tasting, don't hate me!) I've been looking around for cheese alternatives (that don't make me want to hurl) as a way to eat less big-business dairy. And so far, this fermented cashew cheese is at the top of my list.

What do I do with things at the top of my list? Put them on pizza.

Cashew cheese is traditionally a raw foodist trick, so I feel a teeny, tiny bit of guilt sticking it in a 500 degree oven. Ah well.

Look at those tiny, awesome brown peaks of crispy goodness.

But what else could you do with a pound of stinky, tangy, ricotta-like cashew cheese?



Oooh, I know. Quiche!

My girl Elle's weekly cleanse potluck really brings out the vegan, gluten-free baker in me, apparently. And let me say, Darlings - these were pretty killer. Did a Roasted Tomato/Cashew Cheese combo and a Caramelized Onion, Roasted Mushroom and Spinach combo. The cheesy pie was tangy, sharp, lovely, while the Spinach was much milder (still nom).

Vegan quiche can be tricky. You don't want to use a ton of egg replacer - add too much and the stuff tastes horrible, like someone mistakenly dumped half a tin of baking powder in the mix by accident, very metallic, odd. Plain tofu can be boring, soggy, not quite as textural as you want. Too much cornstarch as a thickener gives a dusty texture to the filling. What's a girl to do?

Use a little tahini and cornstarch mixed together, that's what! Masked by all the herby, flavorful additions to the tofu filling, you can't taste 'em, and you end up with a sliceable quichie pie (as long as you let it cool first, that is. Ah, mad vegan science).

I've got to warn you all - this recipe was pretty seat-of-the-pantsy. Meaning, amounts could be off by a little bit. Ah, disclaimers. Let's proceed.

Edit: I've made these three times in the past two weeks, and think I've got it down pretty pat. Adding a vegan/GF pastry recipe, as well!

Vegan, Gluten Free Quiche (basic recipe - filling suggestions below)

1 10 inch GF, vegan crust (recipe below)
either: 1 12 oz box firm tofu + 1/2 small juice-box of silken tofu OR 1 box medium firm tofu + 1/2 box soft tofu (the former will give you a chunkier, more scrambled-egg-like quiche - the latter, a softer, more custard-like quiche)
1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, 1.5 tsp (or more to taste)
Tons of freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp miso
Dry mustard, pinch

to thicken:
1 tablespoon tahini, mixed with 3 tablespoons soymilk or water
1 tbsp cornstarch

for crust:
1 cup GF all purpose flour mix
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xantham gum
3 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening
2 tablespoons EarthBalance or other vegan margarine
1 tsp salt
Garlic + onion powder, dash each
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon cold soymilk or water (or a little more)

Drain your tofu in a colander over the sink for 10 minutes.

Make your crust - Mix your dry ingredients together, then chunk the "butter" and shortening into the flour. Use a pastry cutter to cut the shortening and butter into tiny breadcrumb sized pieces. Add liquid a tablespoon at a time until the dough balls up easily and is moist enough to incorporate all the flour without being slimy. Cover and chill while you prep the rest of your tofu.

In a large bowl, combine tofu and flavoring agents, using your paws to squish and smash until scrambled-egg consistency is reached. Preheat your oven to 325f.

Whisk last 3 ingredients together thoroughly in a separate bowl, add to tofu mixture, mix very well.

Add your filling of choice, but remember - the less liquid, the better. This recipe depends completely on keeping liquid content to a minimum, so roast your veggies first - and if using spinach, blanch and squeeze.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the center puffs a tiny bit and the pastry is golden. Yup, I said an hour and 15. You're almost just dehydrating the pie - low, long heat is the way to go. A crust will form atop the tofu, giving your pie structure.

Pretty deeeelish and almost eggy enough to fool your picky eaters. I've tried tons of combos, filling-wise -
Smokey Tempeh, Roasted Tomato, Spinach, Mushrooms
Spinach, Dill, Mint, Parsley
Fresh Tomato + Cashew Mozz, Basil
Roasted Tomato, Cashew Cheese, Chives
Mushroom and Shallot
Tempeh Sausage, Parsley, Mushroom and Spinach

And on and on. It's all been lovely.

Look closely at the below pic - you can see dollops of delish cashew cheese:

The way I add the cheese to the tofu is by using a small spoon to make 10-12 divits all over the pie, then spoon about a tsp of cheese into each divit. Uses about 3/4 of a cup of cashew cheese per quiche. Then I smooth the top of the quiche gently, blending the cheese into the tofu just a tiny bit.

Luxe and vegan. Serve with salad. And hot sauce.



  1. I've never heard of cashew cheese before but I must admit I'm intrigued!

    Been meaning to ask you, do you have ideas of things to make with coconut oil? I recently got some and now have no clue what to do with it. Thought I'd ask the master!

  2. Yay Tiff!

    I've done a little experimenting with coconut oil - not a ton.

    Favs - fried coconut tofu (like my fried chick'n tofu recipe, but using half coconut flour to coat and half coconut oil to fry), popcorn made with coconut oil (omg, add some curry powder and it's thai popcorn nomnom), and using it in pastry, instead of shortening. Good luckers!

  3. @ Tiffany - check out the cook book "BabyCakes" - she uses a ton of coconut oil. :)

    I love this post! Can't wait to try this. I do miss quiche. Any idea where to find cashew cheese?

  4. Hi Meri! I've never seen it for sale in my neck of the woods, but these guys - - sell online. I remember seeing a product review a while back, and the reviewer was pretty happy.

    I vote you take the plunge and make it yourself! Doesn't take long at all, and the process is super simple.

  5. Great-thanks for the suggestions ladies!!

  6. This looks lovely, thanks for sharing. I feel bad too for heating raw cheeze, miso, etc. -- but sometimes you just have to!

  7. Where do you add the cashew cheese? I don't see it in the recipe instructions.


  8. Hey Robin! Just added a tip about the cashew cheese above.

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