I have a little bit of a thing for cashews. They're my favorite ingredient for veganizing all kinds of dairy-things. They do the job, and when I find something I like, I stick with it. I've played around with a good bit of vegan cheese-making in my kitchen, and nearly all of it has involved cashews.
Well, I'm glad I finally got a little nudge to branch out. That nudge would be getting my hands on a copy of This Cheese Is Nuts! by Julie Piatt. It's got plenty of cashew recipes, as you might expect from a book all about nut cheeses, but there's lots more too! Hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, and as you probably figured out by the title of this post, almonds!
I was actually a little dubious before trying out the smoked almond cheddar spread. Almonds are firmer than cashews and they have a pretty distinct flavor to me. Now that I've tried it, I think almonds might be a new go-to vegan cheesemaking ingredient in my kitchen.
The smoked almond cheddar has a little bit of texture to it that you don't get with cashew cheeses, and it totally works. Also, that little bit of almond sweetness comes through and really compliments the smoky flavors. It was so good I was licking the bowl.
I'm really excited about experimenting with different types of nuts (and other ingredients) as I explore this book more. It includes not just recipes for vegan cheese, but also cheesy vegan dishes like almond fettuccine Alfredo, provolone baked in phyllo dough, and raw beet ravioli with cashew-macadamia nut aged truffle cheese. As far as the straight-up cheese recipes go, I'm really looking forward to trying the cashew camembert, cashew bleu cheese (which even looks like bleu cheese!), and ancho chili nacho cheese.
- 2 cups raw almonds
- ½ to ¾ cup pimientos from a jar plus ½ to ¾ cup packing liquid
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 ¾ teaspoons smoked sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Rinse the almonds well. Place them in water in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Drain the almonds. In the bowl of a food processor, place the almonds, pimientos, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, and ¼ cup pimiento liquid. Process until the mixture is well incorporated.
- Remove the lid and test the cheese for texture and salt content. If you want a smoother spread, add pimiento liquid in small increments and process again. Add more salt if needed.
- Serve this with crackers and fresh pears.