Saturday, May 26, 2012

Everyone’s Favorite Cashew Cheese

I’m going to cut straight to the chase here: make this cheese.

Everyone's Favorite Cashew Cheese

I made this cashew cheese a few weeks ago, as part of an appetizer spread for a Mary Kay party.  My upstairs neighbor is a Mary Kay consultant, and with her I hosted a party.  I invited some friends over for some makeup sampling, and afterward, we drank wine and nibbled on appetizers.  It was a little tricky to figure out the menu.  One of my friends is gluten-free, another is dairy-free, and I wanted a spread that everyone could eat happily.  I settled on a vegetable-heavy menu: a cucumber salad, roasted red pepper strips, crispy rice crackers, and a homemade cashew cheese.  It was really delicious, and I’m not the only one who thought so.  We ate all the cashew cheese in one sitting, so I had to make another batch the next day.  Life is rough, I know.

The amazing thing about this lovely cheese is that it tastes a lot like Cheez-ItTM crackers.  I don’t say that lightly, either, because I loved Cheez-Its as a child.  I still do, to be honest, but they’re too addictive for me.  I can’t be in the same room with an open box without wanting to dive into it.  This cashew cheese has that same salty, nutty, slightly tangy quality as a Cheez-It cracker.  It’s uncanny.  I was so stunned by the flavor that I had to survey other people to see if I was the only one who tasted the similarity, and thank goodness, I was not the only one.  So go ahead, dive into the recipe!  I can’t promise that it’s less addictive than Cheez-Its, but at least it’s made with really wholesome ingredients.    

Everyone’s Favorite Cashew Cheese

Makes about 1 cup

This recipe is, of course, a riff on the cashew cheese recipe I posted several weeks ago.  But I like this one better because it’s simpler and uses better ingredients (olive oil instead of canola oil).  Simple recipes mean you have more time to sit around drinking wine and gossiping with your friends.

1 cup raw cashews


2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp. tahini

1/4 tsp. salt

1)  First, soak the cashews.  Place them in a tall glass or a bowl, cover them with cold water, cover the container with a lid, and let them sit for several hours or overnight.  Drain the cashews in a colander, rinse with cold water, and place them in a food processor.

2)  Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor, and buzz everything together.  Blend for several minutes, pausing a few times to scrape down the bowl.  You really want to blend the heck out of the cashews to get a creamy texture, so when you think you’re done, blend some more just for good measure.  If the mixture seems too dry, you can add another splash of water to help everything blend together.

3)  Line a small or medium colander with a coffee filter and place it over a bowl.  Scrape the mixture into the colander and let it sit for 15-30 minutes to let it set and to let any excess liquid drain out.

4)  Spoon the cheese into a serving bowl or a pie plate and serve.  A pie plate is a nice option because it’s pretty and the size makes it easier for people to scoop out a serving.

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