Pine nut cheese

OK, it’s about time we deal with the Achilles heel of those of us who strive to eat a plant-based diet: cheese. I’m not going to lie to you, cheese is delicious. And its nutty, savory, tangy qualities are not the easiest to replicate. Whereas other dairy products have suitably tasty alternatives that are simple enough to substitute (non-dairy milk for dairy milk, oil for butter), vegan cheese does not. Commercially-made vegan cheese has made great strides in the last 15 years (looking at you, Daiya), but in my opinion, there still is no alternative that is 100% convincing. And as delicious as some of the commercial brands may be, they tend to have – as do many processed foods – a high amount of sodium and unpronounceable preservatives that I prefer to avoid. Also, many of the lactose-free cheeses still contain casein or whey (milk derivatives that are not vegan), so read your ingredient labels carefully.

So, how to put the cheese back in cheese? Fortunately, there are some amazing vegan chefs out there that have done just that. Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero of the Post Punk Kitchen have come up with a pine nut cheese that is soft, creamy, and reminiscent of a smooth goat cheese or ricotta. Perfect for lasagna (along with yesterday’s pesto), atop pizza, or in their phenomenal moussaka. Whenever I make that moussaka for potlucks, I get lots of inquiries about where I bought that incredible goat cheese. Short answer: I made it. Out of tofu and pine nuts. And you can too, in about 5 minutes.

Isa & Terry’s Pine Nut Cheese

1 lb. soft tofu
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 clove garlic
pinch nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
white pepper to taste

In a food processor blend together pine nuts and lemon juice, scrapping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula until a creamy paste forms. Add tofu, garlic, arrowroot, nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth.

Quote of the Day

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated…I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” Mahatma Gandhi

Dairy cows don’t get the best treatment. For a clear explanation of the ethical reasons why vegans don’t eat cheese, see Spinach Blog’s post, Why won’t those wacky vegans eat cheese? Don’t worry – there are no scary photos here.

Pine nut cheese atop moussaka. Great on lasagna and pizza too.

Pine nut cheese atop moussaka. Great on lasagna and pizza too.