THUNDER BAY – I know what you’re thinking….who can love to eat that rubbery soy cheese? For most people who consider going Vegan, their love for cheese is the one barrier to making that choice. As a cheese addict, who grew up on fresh mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan, the move to go Vegan was a tough one at first. The choice became easy when I had, what I term as my a-ha moment (sorry for the Oprahism)…that is when I learned that Casein, a main ingredient in cheese, was addictive. I then realized that if I could stop eating cheese, and get the Casein out of my system, I may not crave it any longer. Guess what! I was right. With my cheese cravings gone, my jump into Veganism came very easy.
Now, you’re thinking, “I thought you were a cheese loving vegan”…and I am. After a year of being Vegan, and a foray into the world of Raw Veganism, I discovered raw vegan cheese. Raw vegan cheese is made fresh by using nuts, such as cashews. Although it can sound quite adventurous, it is actually quite simple.
With my discovery of delicious vegan cheese, came my rediscovery of my childhood favourite dish…Macaroni and Cheese. Here is a wonderful Macaroni and Cheese recipe and a Sundried Tomato Kalamata Olive Cheese Log which is sure to be a hit!
Macaroni and Cheese
- 4 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 8 ounces macaroni
- 4 slices bread, torn into large pieces
- 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine
- 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
- 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
- In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
- In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.
Sundried Tomato Kalamata Olive Cheese Log
makes 10 ounce log
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 oz. Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
- 3.5 ounce jar julienne sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- 5 basil leaves, chopped
- Place cashews in large bowl; cover with 3 inches water. Soak overnight.
- Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain again. Puree cashews, oil, lemon juice, salt and 2 tablespoons water in a food processor for 6 minutes (will give you a firmer texture).
- Place strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth. Fold sides of cloth over cheese, and form into 6-inch-long oval loaf. Twist ends of cloth and secure with rubber bands. Set in strainer over bowl, and let stand 12 hours at room temperature. Discard excess liquid. Chill.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese, and scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth. Rewrap, and twist ends to secure. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes, or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally. Cool, and chill.
- Put olives and sun-dried tomatoes in bowl of food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped but not pureed. Slice basil in ribbons and stir into tapenade. Unwrap cheese and coat with mixture.
Frances Talarico, VEG Thunder Bay