Giving nut cheeses the names of dairy cheeses does a disservice to them – they aren’t at all like dairy cheeses, and the ones that try to be (I’m looking at you, Daiya), do a goopy, plasticy job of trying to get the melt of mozzarella and none of the flavor. Fortunately there are a lot of “artisanal” nut cheeses (from brands like Kite Hill and Treeline) coming out recently that highlight the flavors and textures of nuts – cashews, almonds, macadamias, etc. – to make nut cheeses good in their own right. They aren’t “faux” anything. Hopefully these types of cheeses will break through the label of “vegan food”.
That said, I’m presenting here a “ricotta”-style almond cheese. I don’t mean that it is all ricotta flavor and texture simply sans dairy. I mean that it has a similar flavor profile, sure, but what I really mean is that it is good in the same places that ricotta is. It’s fluffy and slightly tangy, but this cheese has a wonderful nutty almond flavor that works so well with mushrooms, tomatoes, chutney, fruits and citrus.
This recipe comes from the lack of anything normal in my cupboards. I had wanted to make more of the Ayib (“farmer’s cheese”) that I tested for Kittee Berns’ Ethiopian cookbook, but I was out of soymilk. I thought about a tofu- or almond-based cheese, but I was out of both tofu and almonds, too. Fortunately, almond meal (almond flour) works just as well for making a nut-based cheese. So no soaking or high-speed blender necessary! It’s the quickest, easiest cheese I’ve ever made.
- 1 1/3 cup (160g) almond flour (almond meal)
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- between 1/4 and 1/3 cup water
- Mix together almond flour, lemon juice, and sea salt. Mix in 1/4 cup water, and if you have a blender, blend for a few seconds or until whipped and creamy. If not, just mix well. Add water in 1 tablespoon increments to reach the desired consistency, blending or mixing well in between.