Though I eat a LOT of vegan food, and don't really eat many animal products at home or include them in my cooking, I am not actually a vegan. However, I have made the choice to cut out a lot of animal products (especially beef) and dairy such as cheese because I have found it makes my body feel a lot better and a lot less weighed down. This is especially the case with cheese. Though I love love LOVE the taste of cheese, it unfortunately leaves me extremely bloated, so I try to only eat it on few occasions. That being said, I am constantly trying to use dairy substitutes in my cooking, as I love the taste and texture of cheese in certain dishes.
Cashews have become my best friend for this reason. They are seriously AMAZING when it comes to mock dairy products. I have made milk with them, nacho cheese sauce, Caesar dressing, and most recently, The Vegan 8's cream cheese.
I used this particular cream cheese as a mozzarella substitute for a classic Caprese dish. You can find the full recipe for her cream cheese here. I didn't use the liquid smoke, but you can definitely feel free to. I will also post the instructions to her cream cheese below so you can have it on one page, but all credits go to the lovely Brandi of The Vegan 8!
Make sure you start soaking the cashews for the cheese 2 days before you want to eat this dish! It takes one night for the cashews to soak, and one night for the cream cheese to sit over night for perfect consistency!
For vegan cream cheese:
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dill pickle juice
- ½ tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup arugula
- 2 medium vine tomatoes
- 4 leaves of basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cream cheese instructions:
You must soak the cashews fully overnight before making this, the longer the better. I soaked mine for a good 12 hours or so. You should literally be able to crumble them after soaking, that's how soft you want them. So, add your cashews to a bowl and cover with warm water and leave to sit on your counter overnight. Drain them the next day and rinse very well. Shake off excess water.
- Add the soaked/drained cashews, water, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to a food processor and process until a paste forms. Scrape the sides a couple of times and process again. You want it relatively smooth, but it doesn't have to be perfect since we are processing again.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients, pickle juice, nutritional yeast, pepper and salt. Process for several minutes. I'm talking, walk away for a couple of minutes and come back. Scrape the sides down and process once more. You want that stuff silky smooth and a whipped like texture. Refer to photos above for a visual.
- Once it's completely smooth, transfer to a glass container and store in the fridge overnight. It will thicken and firm up some and get really chilled, making it perfect for your bagel in the morning. You will experience the full flavor and texture after it has chilled overnight. Be patient my friends. Enjoy! Come back please and let me know how you liked it! You can also add some plant milk to this to thin it out and use over pasta, just up the spices/acidity to balance it out!
1. Place arugula on a plate. Slice tomatoes thinly and spread on top of arugula.
2. Using a butter knife, spread cream cheese onto each tomato. Chop basil and sprinkle on top of cheese.
3. Top with dried oregano and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Top with salt and pepper if desired.