Despite what your tough biker friends might tell you, you don’t have to be vegan to eat vegan nut cheese. It’s perfectly acceptable (and quite healthy) to take a break from regular cheese and opt for some nut “cheeze” instead. This creamy version is made with almonds, garlic, and lemon. The flavors blend together to balance tangy, sweet, and savory.
Many vegan ricotta/cream cheese recipes use cashews, but I chose almonds for this “cheeze” for a couple reasons. Cashews cost about twice as much as almonds where I shop, and although I believe in abundance, I don’t really want to spend $14 on batch of vegan cheese. I also think that cashews have their own unique strong flavor, where as almonds are nice and mellow in this vegan cheese recipe.
Almond Garlic Vegan Ricotta/Cream Cheese
2 cups blanched almonds (see note)
½ cup water
Juice from 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic
¼ tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Toss all the ingredients into your food processor or high-speed blender and process until you achieve a cheesy texture. (A high speed blender is powerful enough to make this totally smooth like cream cheese.) If you use a Food Processor instead, your cheeze will have more of a ricotta texture, which is also fluffy and delicious. You may have to stop your processor a couple times to scrape down the sides so that everything gets ground up really well.
Note about blanched almonds: If you prefer to make this a raw food nut cheese, then use raw almonds instead of blanched but make sure to get all the skins off by soaking overnight and then removing the skins. I use blanched almonds in this recipe because they sell them in bulk at my local shop and the skins are already removed so I save time. (Getting the skins off two cups of almonds is one of those things that can take longer than you’d like it to.)
Chill the cheeze for at least an hour before spreading on something yummy, like crackers or your favorite type of bagel. Top with some fruit or veggie slices: fresh cucumber or figs go really well with this vegan cheese. This cheeze should store well in the fridge in an airtight container for several days, but it will probably be all gone sooner than that!
I’m going to test this cheeze in a vegan lasagna later this week – I’ll post an update about how that goes!