this cashew cheese is the first non-smoothie concoction i've tried with my new vitamix so far. silky-smooth and savory, it's a nice raw vegan alternative to include on a cheese or appetizer platter, spread on flatbreads or toast, or layer into a sandwich. and so simple to make.
soak some raw cashews for a few hours, drain, and blend them up with fresh lemon juice, a little shoyu for salt and depth (you can also use miso paste), dried italian herbs, a dash of tabasco, and chile flakes.
i used aleppo pepper, a gentle chile variety that's fruity, a little smoky, and mildly spicy. you can play around with the herb/spice combinations...herbes de provence, cumin and coriander, thyme and rosemary, smoked paprika, chipotle powder. make it as spicy or mild as you like. i'd also like to try using miso and maybe some nutritional flakes next time for a funkier, cheesier flavor.
right after blending, the cheese is very soft and spreadable - like a thick hummus. you could serve it right away as a spread or even a dip with vegetable spears and pita chips. i wanted to firm it up a bit and wrapped the cashew mixture in cheesecloth, letting it sit in the fridge overnight in a strainer set over a bowl. after about 12 hours it had the consistency of a soft chevre, drier but still creamy and spreadable.
creamy cashew cheese with herbs and aleppo pepper
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 6 hours (any longer and they may get slimy)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp dried italian herb blend (oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage)
dash of tabasco
pinch of chile flakes
1 to 1-1/2 tsp shoyu, tamari, or miso (to taste)
a few grinds of black pepper
1-2 Tbsp water, if needed, for blending
combine all ingredients in container of a high-powered blender. process on high for a few minutes until cashews are completely blended and mixture is creamy. may need to scrape down the sides a few times and/or add a little water to ensure that the nuts blend evenly.
enjoy as is, or wrap in cheesecloth, tie with kitchen twine, and strain for 12 to 24 hours for a firmer, drier consistency. to serve, unwrap and invert the cheese onto a plate.