A Tale of Two Vegan Cheeses: Smokey and Dill

It would be an understatement to say I was pee-in-my-pants-excited when I tasted this recipe while it was cooking.  It’s so good, I’m labeling it a life-changing recipe.

You know I’m all about coming up with substitutions for the foods I can’t eat.  When I saw Vegangela’s post for Homemade Vegan Cheese a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make it.   Pizza, mac and cheese, and cheese burritos are a possibility for me again.

It’s like I’ve entered a whole new world of culinary delights.  Kudos to Ann Gentry who came up with the original recipe.

I am just as shocked as you that I could make this:

From this!

Cashews

I made gluten-free vegan crackers too.  That recipe’s coming tomorrow!

I made a few small changes to the original recipe.

Cashews, nutritional yeast, onion powder, and garlic salt get ground up in the Cuisinart.

cashews in cuisinart

Non-dairy milk, agar flakes, and oil go into a pot to simmer.

Ten minutes in, I dump it into the running food processor with the dry ingredients. Then I top it off with lemon juice and white miso.

Add any special seasonings to make this cheese uniquely your own; port wine, horseradish, raisins (I’m not gonna judge what someone may or may not find appealing).  I used liquid smoke because I have a long-standing love of smokey cheese that began with havarti.  I also used dill (in a separate batch), probably because I loved dill havarti as a kid.   Jeez, what is it with me and havarti?

Two technical notes:

Agar flakes and powder can be found in specialty stores with the sea vegetables.  Agar is the binder and viscosity adder in this recipe.

I always worry myself to death about heating the wrong oils and getting soiled oils (that rhymes).  I considered using all sesame oil since it keeps its healthy fat profile when heated, but was afraid it would be too nutty.  It turns out I didn’t taste it at all so I’ll get to use only the healthy stuff next time.  Hooray!

Vegan cheese

Both have a rich, slightly salty, cheesiness.  Of the two, I was completely bananas over the smokey cheese.  It covers the miso flavor a wee bit more than the dill.

Dill Cashew Cheese

The texture reminds me of Follow Your Heart vegan cheese.  It’s creamy, light, and juicy.  Apparently, it even melts.  And you should know, it’s a bit…rubbery… like a water balloon.  I can throw it around and it doesn’t even break.  OK, I didn’t actually try that because that would be messy.

I’m storing mine in Ziploc bags.  Baron is worrying about how much cheese we have now, so I’m going to try freezing some.

Cashew Vegan Cheese
Makes 4 cups/ Prep time: 15 minutes/ Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 3 and 1/2 cups plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup agar flakes (or 8 teaspoons agar powder)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil plus 1/4 cup sesame oil (you can do 1/2 cup of a single oil)
  • 4 TBSPS yellow or white miso
  • 2 TBSPS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. dill or 1 tsp. liquid smoke

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil 2 large salad bowls.
  2. Using the pulse button, finely grind the cashews in a food processor.  Don’t over-grind and make a paste. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, and garlic salt. Pulse a few more times to blend in the spices.
  3. Combine the non-dairy milk, agar, and oil in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the agar is dissolved.
  4. With the food processor running, gradually pour the milk mixture through the feed tube. Blend for 2 minutes or until the mixture is very smooth and creamy. Blend in the miso, lemon juice and special seasonings.
  5. Pour the cheese mixture into your oiled bowls. Cover and refrigerate until it is very firm, about 4 hours. When it’s firm, use a knife to gently remove the cheese from the bowl.
  6. To reheat and melt the cheese, place in a pot over medium heat, stir frequently.  Add more milk if needed.
  7. The cheese will keep for 4 days, covered and refrigerated.
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29 responses

    • Hmmm…If I remember it correctly, I think it worked out just fine. If you’re concerned, just freeze a small portion to see what happens. =) Marya

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  5. Marya…thanks for the great recipe! Haven’t tried it yet…but wondered do you thin coconut oil would work in place of the canola and sesame?

    • Hi Michelle, I’ve read that others have had success with using coconut oil. It’s possible that the miso taste will be more pronounced. If you try it, do let us know how it works!! Warmly, Marya

  6. My background is Ukranian. I don’t know a lot of Maryas, either. I’ve actually never met another one. I have to admit, your name is partly what drew me to your website! How do you pronounce it?

    I’m planning on trying your recipe as soon as I run out of my store-bought vegan cheese!

    • I’ve known one other Marya. =) I’m not sure I’ll convey this well. It’s not Maria or Mariah. It’s MAR ee ya. How about you?

  7. This really is a life-changer! I’m so excited to find a nut-based cheese recipe that doesn’t require a dehydrator… because I can’t afford one ;)

    • Hi Marya. I don’t meet a lot of Maryas! What’s the origin of your name? Mine’s the Slovakian derivation of Mary. Thanks for commenting. You should definitely try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it. Warmly, Marya

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  11. Looks so yum! Just a tip on the agar… I buy my agar at a chinese store… as a whole and then chop it in my food processor. It comes dried in celophane. It is soooo much less expensive and I think the shelf life is super long so I do one big batch and it lasts.

    • This is a great tip! You read my mind. I just made another batch and was smarting after purchasing that little bag of Agar for $8. I’ll definitely do this from now on. Thanks for the tip and for reading. Warmly, Marya

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  13. HI again, Marya. I tried this recipe but I made a few changes and the result is cheddar-y. I put a half cup brewer’s yeast, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons horseradish power and kosher salt. I used fresh lemon juice (the amount the recipe calls for) but I think you could make the cheese ‘sharper’ by adding more lemon. In Canada sharp Cheddar is called old, or extra old.

    • Aw, thanks! And thanks for the inspiration. We cooked with it all week and it was such a great addition! I’ll let ya know if I experiment with new flavors. Warmly, Marya

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  15. Marya, this looks awesome. I have experimented with cashew “cheeze” in the past, but it did not turn out this amazing looking. Maybe because it was technically raw, though I did put it through an elaborate aging process in a very low temp over. On another note, I tried Daiya mozarella the other day to make a pizza. It was good and melted but I’ve been worried it is too processed because it made my nostril cement over in my sleep that night.

    • Aw, thanks! Yeah, it sounds like your body is giving you a sign about that cheese. I’m really liking cooking with it. We made a pasta the other night and it melted and tasted great. We made a pizza tonight and I was also happy with it. There’s so many flavors you can try and I’ve read it freezes well. It’s definitely a good one to try. TTFN, Marya

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