As I write out more and more of these recipes, I find myself realizing that my love of cooking seriously stems from growing up in the kitchen with my mother. While we didn’t cook vegan food while she was here, she is the one who taught me to make a lasagna, (always cook one extra noodle, in case one breaks, then you get to eat it if it’s not needed😄) make a cheese sauce, bake Christmas sugar cookies from scratch, and so much more. Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes to make for a group of people and it’s very easy. My mom would use cottage cheese in hers and I always loved it. I don’t think the vegan community has found a way to make a vegan cottage cheese, (if they have, please let me know), but vegan ricotta has been a kind substitute.
For years I was making my own tofu ricotta. I think most vegans have that one down, and I know tofu scares some people off, so I set off to find something different. My husband and I love the Kite Hill brand, made with almonds, but when two tubs are needed at $8 a pop, that can be difficult to swing every time. I wanted to find a way to make my own and make it taste as good as the store bought.
I found a recipe online and it involved the dreaded soaking of cashews. It’s kind of a joke with me that I hate soaking cashews for recipes. I have no idea why, because it’s truly not hard to do, but I have always felt intimidated by recipes that call for this; I try to stay away from them. I decided to try it, as there wasn’t much more to the recipe- only a few ingredients. I ended up modifying the recipe to make it more flavorful, but it was so easy and turned out better than I even expected. I highly suggest soaking the cashews overnight. Set them out before you go to bed, and drain them when you get up in the morning. This recipe made enough for an entire lasagna and with the remaining, I made 25 homemade ravioli! I know cashews and nuts are also a bit pricey, but through this I was able to make much more than buying at the store. If you don’t want to have a little extra to play around with, you can halve the recipe, or make as is and throw it all into your lasagna. (It’ll still be great!) I liked to have the extra because this keeps very well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
3 Cups, raw, unsalted cashews
1 Cup nondairy milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
Soak the cashews for several hours, but ideally overnight. They should have absorbed much of the water and be pretty plump.
Drain cashews and blend on high with other ingredients in food processor or blender.
Scrape down the sides, as needed. Continue to blend until you reach the desired consistency of ricotta, a few minutes. I scraped the sides of the food processor a few times.
I initially thought I didn’t have a good enough food processor to get the job done, but you really just have to keep blending; the cashew pieces will eventually pulverize.
Taste a bit, and add more salt if necessary.
Use any way you would regular ricotta cheese. Store the remainder in a container in the fridge, up to one week.
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