A Cheese Plate for Vegans

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Photo: Jim Franco

Vegan Cheese Plate
Serves 8 to 10

Candle Café chef Angel Ramos is an artisan cheese maker, and his cheeses look and taste extraordinary. Making vegan cheese from scratch can seem like a daunting project, but it really isn’t. You simply need to give nuts, such as cashews or macadamias, time to soak and soften before blending them. You can create a fabulous holiday cheese plate by adding fresh and dried figs, grapes, pears, and apples, an assortment of nuts, and your favorite crackers and bread to these splendid cheeses.

Cashew cheese
2 cups raw cashews
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Macadamia cheese
2 cups raw macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons pink and green peppercorns
Assorted crackers and fruit, to serve

To make the cashew cheese, the day before serving, put the cashews in a bowl and add enough cold water to cover them. Cover and let soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Drain and rinse the cashews and transfer to a food processor. Add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and blend until smooth, 10 to 12 minutes. If you find that there is not enough liquid in the food processor to blend the nuts, add a bit of water. 

Transfer the cashew paste to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour to firm. Remove and pack the paste into a 4-inch ring mold. Remove the mold and press into the outer edges a mixture of the parsley and chives.

To make the macadamia cheese, the day before serving, put the macadamia nuts in a bowl and add enough cold water to cover them. Cover and let soak overnight in the refrigerator. 

Drain and rinse the nuts and transfer to a food processor. Add the lemon juice, oil, and salt and blend until smooth, 10 to 12 minutes. 

Transfer the macadamia paste to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour to firm. Remove and pack the paste into a 4-inch ring mold. Remove the mold and press into the outer edges the peppercorns.

To serve, arrange the cheeses on a platter and garnish with your favorite assortment of crackers and fruits.

Excerpted from Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe (Ten Speed) by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda (2014)

More vegan cooking:
Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna
Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes
Vegan Pad Thai