Going from vegetarian to vegan is not a big jump but one of the hardest foods to find a substitute for is cheese. Now, years after making the switch to vegan I find walking through the gourmet cheese aisle at the grocery rather smelly and unpleasant. But cheese adds a certain tangy and creamy flavor to salads and appetizers. I am grateful for the many nut cheese recipes available nowadays. I have tried many different recipes, some from VegNews Magazine, some from Vegetarian Times Magazine, or raw cookbooks. The process generally involves soaking cashews or almonds overnight, blending them with water, lemon juice, and other flavors, and then curing the cheese at room temperature or sometimes adding a probiotic powder to enhance the tangy flavor. If you are feeling cheese-deprived since becoming vegan or omitting dairy foods from your diet for health and food sensitivity reasons, you will love the taste of creamy nut cheeses despite the effort. I would encourage you to start with a very simple recipe and branch out from there. This vegan Brie was made from the recipe in Veg News Magazine Vegan Cheese issue of October 2012. The issue is available for purchase on the Veg News web site. I decorated mine with fresh cranberries and rosemary for the holidays. I especially love serving the vegan goat cheese to unsuspecting (and non-vegan) tasters who love it and can’t figure out what it is made from or why it tastes different but they know it’s good.

So here is a simple first-timer vegan cheese recipes to whet your appetite:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight, then drained
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Blend (if you have a high speed blender, otherwise use your food processor) the cashews with other ingredients until smooth. Transfer to 3 layers of cheesecloth (use unbleached) and shape into a log. Set aside covered with a towel for 14-16 hours to culture. Press the cheese into a springform pan and refrigerate for a couple hours until firm. Press crushed peppercorns or herbs onto the outside of the cheese. Spread on crackers or crumble over a salad. Enjoy!!

vegan Brie compressed