As a former cheese lover, I had never really met a cheese that I didn’t like. Growing up on American cheese and sharp cheddar, I quickly graduated to falling in love with garlicky cheese spreads and Havarti dill and Jarlsburgh. But as an adult, I was introduced to the creamy versatile mildness of goat cheese or chevre and I fell in love with the taste and texture of this newfound delight. I found ways to throw goat cheese into just about every recipe—everything was better with alittle goat cheese in it. Since becoming vegan, I can honestly say that I don’t miss cheese, unlike many vegans who say that cheese is the hardest thing to give up. Hell, I think that the love of cheese is what prevents many vegetarians from becoming vegan—they just can’t envision a life without it! Knowing that cheese is not healthy for me and knowing where it comes from has pretty much extinguished that old craving of mine for it. But the cheesy flavor is part and parcel of many recipes and can enhance many dishes.
Learning to be more vegan has much to do with successfully finding better substitutes for basics, as well as the foods you love, and making them work. Thankfully there are many wonderful cheese substitutes available to us nowadays in all the stores—made from soy, almond milk, coconut milk, pea protein.They spread, they melt, they sprinkle, they slice! I’ve learned how to make a parmesan stand-in with cashews and nutritional yeast! But the taste and feel of vegan goat cheese has eluded me thus far…until now.
I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and combinations and I think I’ve made 2 kinds of ”goat” cheese that are very easy to make and can be enjoyed in many recipes. Vegan goat cheese seems to be based in either nuts or tofu, so I made both with different results. The nut based cheese is more crumbly and takes a bit more planning ahead, whereas the the tofu-based cheese is smoother and can be made and served immediately. Both recipes benefit from time spent in the fridge to firm them up and for the flavors to marry. When it comes to meltability, neither has the capacity to really get gooey but they both soften and taste delicious warmed up. Both cheeses were great in their own unique way.
Nut-Based, Crumbly Vegan “Goat” Cheese
Inspired by spabettie.com, forkandbeans.com, rawfoodrecipes.com, thesweetlifeonline.com
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 5-6 hours
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, soaked in water for 5-6 hours
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp white miso paste
2-3 tbsp of water, as needed
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
1) Drain and rinse the cashews and macadamia nuts
2) In a food processor, mix together the nuts, apple cider vinegar, miso paste, lemon juice, salt and water as needed until it forms a smooth paste. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides several times.
3) Put the paste into a sterilized glass container, cover with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band.
4) Wrap the jar in a dish towel and leave on the counter overnight or for 12-36 hours. The cheese will culture and become more tangy and salty as it sits.
5) Taste and adjust taste with more lemon juice or salt.
6) Place in refrigerator and chill for use.
Add fresh or dried herbs, garlic, sun dried tomatoes or basil for variations
Simple Recipe Idea for crumbly vegan goat cheese: Make quinoa and add chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt. Chill. When cooled, spoon some nut based goat cheese on top!
Tofu-Based, Smooth Vegan “Goat” Cheese
inspired by Sprinttothetable.com
1 16 oz. pkg firm tofu, drained & pressed for 15 minutes
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1.5 T yellow miso
1/4 Cup nutritional yeast
1/4 Cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (~1.5 lemons)
1/4 Cup yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano powder
Crumble pressed tofu into the bowl of a food processor. Add remaining ingredients for “cheese,” except the basil. Process until smooth.
Simple Recipe Idea for smooth vegan goat cheese: Slice up huge tomatoes and dab some of the tofu-based goat cheese on top. Then I cut fresh herbs from my garden (basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme), added minced garlic and salt, splashed some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and mixed them all together. I spooned it on top of the goat cheese for a great appetizer or snack.