It’s Greek to me: vegan feta

feta Another installment in the vegan cheese explorations: a simple “under 5 minutes” recipe that requires a bare minimum of ingredients. The result is a soft cheese that can approximate goat cheese, ricotta, or feta, depending on what type of herbs you add to it. It goes well on pizza as well as salad and probably other things too. For more on how to make delicious, cheese-free pizza, see Vegan Pizza 101

The base recipe is from Jo Stepaniak’s The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, an entire cookbook on vegan cheese. I have only made a few things from it and hope to try my hand at some of the block cheeses in the future.

½ lb. firm tofu, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon light miso

2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

Crumble the tofu in a bowl, then add the other ingredients. Really, that’s it. If the dish you’re making won’t be cooked (i.e. if you’re just sprinkling it on salad), then you may want to cube the tofu and cover with water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, chill, and add in the other ingredients. (Confession: I have done this without chilling, and it was fine).

Here are some of the ways I’ve experimented with the basic recipe to give it a little more oomph and to distract from what – for me – is the flavor of the tofu that can stubbornly shine through in the basic recipe. Nothing against tofu, but when it’s cheese I’m craving, the flavor of bean curd just won’t cut it.

Greek version: feta is really salty, so I up the lemon juice just a bit or add some of the brine from a jar of kalamata olives to bring out that saltiness that is essential to feta. For herbs, I add in rosemary, basil, thyme or a combination of the three. I have had people think this was real feta.

Italian version: Again, I’d up the lemon juice a little, to get away from the bean-y taste of the tofu. Any herb you’d want on pizza is good here. Rosemary is excellent, and oregano is pretty good too.

French version: Tarragon, thyme, and/or marjoram would make good herbs if you want to approximate goat cheese. I’d up the lemon juice too.

Food for Thought

A frequent question that vegans and vegetarians often get is, “If you avoid animals or animal products, then why do you try to replicate meat and dairy flavors in your cooking?” For me, it’s about being able to meet my nutrient needs and eat tasty stuff without causing harm to animals. Bacon and cheese are undeniably tasty, so if I can replicate their flavors using plant-based ingredients, all the better.  Here is a post that sheds more light on the matter and provides our Quote of the Day:

Cadry’s Kitchen: If vegans don’t want to eat animals, why would they eat something that tastes like meat?

 I went vegan because I think there’s a higher ethic than “It tastes good.” – Cadry’s Kitchen

Vegan feta on pizza and sprinkled on salad made for a tasty dinner last night.

Vegan feta on pizza and sprinkled on salad made for a tasty dinner last night.