Vegan ricotta cheese
Vegan ricotta cheese
This is my first cheese recipe, but there will be more, promise! Before I went vegan, cheese was something I didn’t think I would be able to live without, but it turns out I was wrong.
I craved it a bit for the first week but within 3 weeks or so I forgot all about it! My body must have appreciated this decision as I started noticing that a handful of minor health complaints I used to have were no longer there, along with a few extra kilos, which I gained in my stressful London life. I found the weight loss astonishing as I was hardly starving myself. Quite the opposite, in fact.
All in all, I don’t miss cheese very much, but there are some dishes where having a vegan equivalent would have been handy. While I’m waiting for these amazing vegan cheeses to reach Europe, I’ve decided to take matters in my own hands and make my own vegan ricotta for the upcoming recipe.
It was inspired by my numerous cheesecake experiments. Once I found the texture I liked, I decided to go for savoury instead of sweet flavouring and it turned out to be right on the money. As usual, my initial mention of this undertaking saw Duncan pulling faces while (he thought) I wasn’t looking 😉 .
Once I was done with my experiment, however, and presented it to him on a piece of toasted sourdough bread with a slice of tomato, a handful of rocket and a few olives, he could not believe that this ricotta-like thing is made from cashews. He was crying out for seconds and marvelling about it all day. Nothing makes me happier than when the taste of my food converts a sceptic.
PS: If you try out this vegan ricotta cheese, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram (#lazycatkitchen). Next week, I’ll be publishing a new recipe that uses this cheese as an ingredient 🙂
- 140 g / 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
- ¼ cup / 60 ml coconut cream (optional)*
- 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tsp white miso paste**
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 roasted (for milder flavour) or raw garlic clove
- ¼ tsp salt
- good pinch of white (or black) pepper
- 2 pinches of dry oregano
- a pinch of dry thyme
- 3 tsp agar flakes (optional, see INSTRUCTIONS)
- Rinse the cashews and chop them roughly to help the blender process them. Divide them roughly into 3 portions.
- Place all the liquids – coconut cream, lemon juice and 2 tbsp of water – at the bottom of your blender. Follow by the first portion of chopped cashews. Process until fairly smooth. You will need to use a spatula initially to scrape down the mixture that stays on the walls of the blender. Once the first portion of the cashews is fairly smooth, slowly start adding the remaining cashews, blending well after each addition. If you want the cheese to have a ricotta-like texture, be careful not to over process it. If you want your cheese to be completely smooth, process until the mixture is silky smooth (like my 2nd photo – this cheese was super smooth like a cream cheese).
- Season with miso (see notes), nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, dry herbs, garlic and more lemon if you like your cheese on the tangy side.
- Put agar flakes and 60 ml / ¼ cup of water into a very small pot and set on the lowest heat. Let the mixture come to the boil and then let it simmer for another 10 min to activate. Make sure you stir it the whole time.
- Pour activated agar mixture into the blender and blend well. Pour the cheese into a small dish to cool down and set. It tastes better the next day once the flavours have had a chance to mingle but it will be ready to eat after 15-20 min. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- NO AGAR METHOD Place the liquids – coconut cream (or water) and lemon juice – at the bottom of your blender. Follow by the first portion of chopped cashews. Process until fairly smooth. You will need to use a spatula initially to scrape down the mixture that stays on the walls of the blender. Once the first portion of the cashews is fairly smooth, slowly start adding the remaining cashews, blending well after each addition.
- Since you are not using agar, you simply need to add minimum amount of liquid (that includes coconut cream or/and water) to the cashews in order to retain thick consistency without the need for a thickener. At some point your blender will struggle to process the mixture as it will be very thick and heavy. To remedy this, take blender’s lid off and make small circles (in the direction of the turning blades), with a spatula, a few millimetres below the surface of the cheese mixture to help the blades turn. Please be very careful not to dip the spatula too deep or too close to the blades as it will damage them.
- Season with miso (see notes), nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, dry herbs, garlic and more lemon if you like your cheese on the tangy side. Transfer it to a jar and place in the fridge. It will become thicker and spreadable by the next day.
** While white miso (which in reality is orange-brown) gives this cheese a nice umami flavour, it does change its colour. If you want your ricotta to be white, skip this ingredient or use only a small amount.
I couldn't help but wonder: how would Ania do this? Have you ever made a vegan version of bougatsa? If not, would you consider doing it? ;-)
I didn't use agar agar. Since I was going to mix the cheese with warm ingredients I thought it would be a waste of time and agar. The consistency is perfect anyway for spreading on bread too. There was more than enough so I froze some portions in my super handy tray for large ice cubes. Thank you, Ania!
Firstly, apologies for my late reply but I was on holidays for the last 10 days. Yes, I am well acquainted with bougatsa :) - we used to enjoy it when living in Greece before we transitioned to veganism. Glad to hear that this ricotta fared well in your savoury version - it does sound delicious. As for the sweet version, I would make a custard similar to this or that one (depending on the angle) or perhaps some kind of fusion of the two and use shop-bought pastry. I have been thinking of making it for the blog at some point, but never quite got round to it - thanks for the reminder, I will put it on the list. x Ania
Perhaps you have an idea where I went wrong. I'm wondering if it's because I used lime juice rather than lemon juice? Or perhaps I used the wrong type of miso. I also did a quick boil with line for the cashews as I forgot to do then overnight. I tasted the coconut milk and miso as I thought they could be the culprits, but both tasted fine, they hadn't gone bad.
Do you have any thoughts to what was my clearly huge mistake?
Thanks so much
I'm sorry to hear about that, but it really does seem that one of the ingredients must have been off. The tasty is supposed to be tangy - the level of which you can adjust to your preference by adding less lemon juice, but it certainly should not taste fizzy - that's a strong indicator that something fermented. Ania
Yes, you can put it on pizza. As it's meant to mimic ricotta, I tend to add it on at the end, like they would do in a pizzeria, but it will melt and brown a little, but no, not like dairy mozzarella, I'm afraid. I like spreading it on toast with other savoury (olives, basil, artichokes, peppers, balsamic vinegar) or sweet toppings, you can also put dollops of it on your pasta or vegan risotto. Hope that helps! Ania
My pleasure, I'm really chuffed to hear that you enjoyed it! Yes, sure! I freeze it very often as I'm out of a habit of eating cheese in large quantities these days. Ania
I'm sorry to hear that you detected coconut flavour in this 'cheese'. As it's only 1/5 of the bulk of the recipe (1 cup of cashews to ¼ cup coconut cream) and there is lots of flavourings (miso, nutritional yeast, lemon, garlic, herbs) that mask it, I did not detect any coconut flavour myself during testing, but I will test it once more just to be sure. You could simply use a small amount water or maybe veggie stock (+ optional olive oil) to mince the cashews if you want to eliminate coconut altogether. Hope that helps! Ania
My husband and I watched a documentary on Netflix a few days ago named "What the Health". We were so shocked that the same evening, we decided to become vegans.
It is a huge steps. I am a senior citizen, and my husband is not far behind. We are also very excited, and up to the challenge. One of the dish I made so many times in my life is the spanakopita. I am thrilled to see that you are offering a vegan version, and am really looking forward to trying your ricotta cheese. Thank you for the work that you do. You are contributing to making the world a better place.
Just curious- can you taste the coconut in the end result?
No, I would not say that coconut taste is detectable in the final product. Garlic, lemon, miso and herbs (and neutral cashews) do a good job at masking it completely. Coconut cream is added for extra creaminess. Hope that helps, Ania
I have to manage a cashew allergy (as well as dairy)...
Do you think this recipe could work with almonds?
Almonds are lower in fat than cashews so you may have trouble obtaining the same creamy texture, but perhaps macademia nuts and sunflower seeds (maybe combined) will work. Crumbled firm or extra firm tofu may be a good solution too. Hope that helps, Ania
Thank you :) I get my coconut cream from a chilled tin of full fat coconut milk and that's the solid part that floats to the top. If using a tin of coconut cream, just mix everything together and use that. Good luck! x
Thanks so much, I'm so glad to hear that! Hope you'll like it! :)
Thanks for the recipe!
Looks good! I will try this once I round up the ingredients.
fyi: sometime ago, I read an old review of a dish of long green beans with fermented bean curd served at an iconic restaurant in Vancouver's China Town. The review described the fermented bean curd as tasting like parmesan. Since, then I have been meaning try it.
On my last trip to the Asian Market in Kelowna, I purchased a teeny, tiny bottle of 'Che Che Fermented Bean Curd in Sesame Oil' (with chill). I was hesitant to try something so 'exotic', but at the first taste, I found it to be reminiscent of Cambazola, if it were marinated in sesame-chili oil. It is savoury, salty and has a kick of spice. The only veg I had to try it on was steamed, farm fresh cabbage. Not it's best pairing. Next I tried it on toasted rounds of baguette. A win. It would be even better on Carr's Water Crackers.
No, I haven't published a cookbook as of yet, I'm afraid but thank you for asking :)