Making soft and silky plant-based cheeses is easy enough—you’ve probably tried your hand at cashew cheese, tofu-based cheese and maybe even nut-free cauliflower cheese. Creating hard vegan cheeses, on the other hand, might feel a bit more daunting. But this recipe keeps it simple by using an ingredient called agar, a naturally gelatinous substance obtained from algae, as a plant-based alternative to animal gelatin. Agar will turn the cheese into a firm block, perfect for grating, melting or slicing.
3/4 cup Vitacost Organic Cashews, soaked overnight
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
1-1/2 tsp. arrowroot starch
1-1/2 tsp. agar powder
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup water, divided
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1/8 tsp. Redmond Real Salt
- In a saucepan, mix agar with 1/2 cup water. Do not apply heat and set aside.
- Drain cashews. In a food processor, add cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, arrowroot, lemon juice, turmeric, salt and remaining 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth.
- Add cashew mixture to saucepan with agar. Bring to boil on low heat until it forms into a thick batter.
- Transfer thick batter to any dish, keeping in mind that cheese will take that shape. Try muffin tins or a small pie pan.
Note: If desired, top with spices or seasonings, like pepper flakes, paprika or other herbs.