As I mentioned in my Week 2 Menu for the 21-day Plant Powered Opportunity, around this time my family and I start to miss dairy products, which we don’t consume a lot of normally anyway. As long as you’re not allergic to nuts, I think that nut-based milk, cream and cheese make excellent substitutes for their dairy inspirations, whether it’s because you are following a plant-based diet or avoiding dairy for other reasons. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution site has a very good review of milk substitutes.
Beyond milk, if you’re looking for a substitute for cream, learn how to make Cashew cream, which can be flavored in either a sweet or sour direction. It can also be used as a base to substitute for alfredo or béchamel sauces.
I’ve been making cashew cream for years. I haven’t been a fan of most commercially available vegan cheeses, but recently made a few attempts to make my own at home. These are both based on cashews. I made a version of ricotta, which can be used in lasagna and other filled pastas, as well as a fermented soft cheese, based upon popular vegan cheesemaker Miyoko Schirmer’s basic recipe. Many versions of vegan ricotta use nutritional yeast, and others use lemon juice and/or zest, but after a few experiments, I wasn’t happy with how those tasted. I decided to omit those ingredients and added a little oat milk instead, for a simple recipe with a slightly sweet and milky, rather than cheesy, taste, just like dairy ricotta.
And if you’re looking for a recommendation for a vegan butter substitute, I recommend Miyoko’s vegan butter, which tastes remarkably similar to the real thing and can be used in baking. It’s made of a combination of cashews and coconut oil, so it is high in fat, also just like the real thing, so use sparingly, as you would butter.
Creamy Cashew Ricotta
2 cups raw cashews, covered with water and soaked for at least 2 hours, then drained
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oat milk
1 tablespoon water, more as needed
- Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until you have the grainy consistency of ricotta. Stir in more water, if needed, to get desired consistency. May be consumed immediately, but will taste creamier if rested in the refrigerator overnight.
- Use in any recipe where you would use ricotta, or enjoy with fresh fruit.
Miyoko’s Basic Vegan Cheese
2 cups cashews
enough water to cover cashews
1/2 cup sauerkraut juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon miso
pinch sea salt
- Soak cashews for at least 2 hours in water, then drain thoroughly.
- Combine drained nuts, sauerkraut juice, nutritional yeast, miso, and sea salt in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Transfer to a covered container and let ferment somewhere warm for at least 24 hours. (I found that 2-3 days was an ideal amount of time to allow the flavor to mellow a little bit.)
Thanks for coming by! If you’ve been following along on our 21-Day Plant-Powered Opportunity, how’s it going? (And if you haven’t, why not join now?) What have you been missing? What have you discovered? Feel free to share questions and recipe ideas in the comments!
And if you’re in the San Francisco area, come and cook with me in the Thrive Kitchen at Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco, where we explore global flavors in plant-based cooking every month! For the 2020 schedule: https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/care-near-you/northern-california/sanfrancisco/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2019/12/ThriveKitchenSchedule.pdf
We’re currently registering for the April class, which features Recipes to Reduce Food Waste. I’d love to see you there! 415-833-3440 or email SFHealthEd@kp.org to register.