I want you to memorize this recipe.
Because it’s amazing, and because it’s too simple not to know by heart.
And because I am going to be using it in so many recipes in the very near future.
As you guys know, the kitchen over at the Graceful household is (almost) vegan.
One of the only things I let myself lament about this otherwise positive fact is the lack of cheese.
I am a cheese lover, and giving up dairy was far more difficult than meat or eggs. I miss the perfect breakfast of thick, tangy yogurt loaded with goodies, the ability of cream to take any pasta dish to the next level, the simple joy of salted butter spread over warm toast… And of course my all-time favorite food, the food Mr. Graceful had waiting for us on the beach where he proposed: Pizza.
There’s something funny about attempting to find copycat versions of things we decide to give up, isn’t there?
I have a friend who practically goes crazy every time I tell him of a new “vegan cheese” or “vegan yogurt” recipe that I have… After he’s done flipping out, he tells me that if vegans miss those things so much, they shouldn’t be vegan. And if they don’t miss it, then they shouldn’t be constantly trying to imitate it.
I get his point, but…
But I did not banish animal products from my home because of a deep, burning hate of cheese. I just wanted to make sure my diet would be kinder to myself and to my surroundings.
So while I definitely enjoy the plant-based foods that nature has to offer when they are closest to their natural state, I still deeply miss some non-vegan foods.
Unfortunately, I have yet to meet a vegan cheese that can successfully sit atop a pizza, all melty and stretching (let me know if you guys have cracked the recipe for that… I will be eternally grateful).
However, this one definitely does a good job of delivering the things I miss about a good feta — slightly crumbly yet a little creamy, with the right balance of tang and saltiness.
I got the recipe from the uber-talented Debbie of Maple-Spice. Because I have been in an instant-gratification kind of mood lately (I blame the pregnancy out loud but deep down I know it’s not related), after a few times making it I decided to skip the step of straining it overnight by just using less liquid. The extra fermentation you may or may not be getting from letting the cheese hang out for a few hours isn’t missed, in my opinion.
I’ve used it in quiches and fillings for baked goods (I hope to get to those in my next posts), but the version I offer here is the simplest way one can enjoy it: Atop some crackers, or a piece of your favorite crusty sourdough…
…Or just sliced off and eaten by itsef.
Vegan Feta Cheese:
Slightly adapted from Maple-Spice
Serves: Makes one 250 gram (~9 oz) wheel
Estimated Time: 7 minutes prep + 20 minutes bake
Kosher Classification: Neutral
Music That Compliments This Dish: The Beatles – I’ve Just Seen A Face
1.5 cups almond flour (almond meal without the almond skins)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
Optional: 3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh herbs, olives, or sun-dried tomatoes.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, which are 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor (except optional ingredients) and blitz the heck out of them until a thick paste is formed (about 4-6 minutes, depending on the strength of your machine). Stir in optional ingredients, if using.
Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on your working surface and lightly oil it.
Scrape the paste onto the center of the plastic wrap sheet.
Scoop up the edges of the plastic wrap around the mixture and tighten on top so that none can escape.
Holding the hunk of mixture by the excess plastic wrap on top, round the bottom with your other hand. Return it to you working surface, round part down, and gently flatten into a round disc.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully place the “cheese” disc on it, smooth side up.
Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven), until the cheese wheel has dried on all sides and is slightly cracked and golden.
Let cool before serving with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs.
Store in the fridge (plastic-wrapped or in an airtight container).
- Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F)
- Process 1.5 cups almond flour (almond meal without the skins), 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 Tbs. olive oil, 2 cloves garlic (chopped), 1/4 cup water and 1/2 tsp salt in food-processor until a smooth paste consistency is reached (4-6 minutes).
- Optional: Stir in 3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh herbs, olives, or sun-dried tomatoes.
- Turn mixture out into a sheet of plastic wrap, and use the plastic wrap to shape it into a tight disc about 3 cm (1.25 inch) thick.
- Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 15-25 minutes, until the surface is crusty and slightly golden.
- Let cool before serving.