There are various (and ever growing) nut cheese options at my grocery store and, as I fill my basket with parmesan, goat, and extra extra sharp cheddar, I wonder whether the delicious, perfect creamy flavor of cheese be replicated with something that isn’t cheese? Frankly, I am skeptical to say the least. I love cheese so much that, despite my lactose intolerance, I consume dairy anyway (and I regret nothing). But for those who choose not to eat dairy or have a medical condition preventing them to do so, then nut cheese substitutes are surely a god-send. However, it’s not a cheap god-send: I’ve seen tiny glass pots of a cashew cheese substitute for upwards of $15 dollars at my grocery store.
This led me to wonder whether making nut cheese at home is a massively complicated time suck, or if it’s more like homemade almond milk which is so fast and so easy (not to mention so much yummier than the store bought version), that I can’t believe someone was able to turn it into a multi-billon dollar business.
I found a recipe for a simple cashew cheese that acts as a dip but I wanted my “cheese” to be creamy enough to coat pasta as a mock-alfredo or Cacio e Pepe. And since my “cheese” sauce is going to be vegan and gluten free, I thought I’d really “go there” and use gluten-free pasta to make it friendly to many restricted diets- either medical or healthful. And you know what? It was delicious! I used an easy recipe from a delightful detox-friendly blog called Nutrition-Stripped and added a few tricks of my own.
The recipe is extremely simple. Throw a bunch of stuff in a high-speed blender or food processor and – nut cheese! This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of the stuff which is plenty for 2 servings of pasta. A little word of advice: Don’t be afraid to use nutritional yeast! It’s what gives the pulverized cashews that cheesy je-ne-sai-quois. The cashew cheese itself if pretty dry so I added 3 more tablespoons of water than the recipe called for…as well as about 2 tablespoons of cooking water to the pasta when I mixed it all together (BTW, Bionature makes the BEST gluten free spaghetti.)
While I have to say that my nut cheese won’t forever replace the melty quality of my beloved Parmesan cheese, I’d be happy to sub it in every once in a while to give my lactose intolerant tummy a break, or proud to serve it at my next gathering of vegan and gluten free friends. The recipe is easy and fast, the results are very yummy, so you know what that means: 100% worth it!