Sunday, June 6, 2010

Vegan Almond Feta

Ah, but for valiant efforts! Alicia at Vegan Epicurean has raved about this vegan cheese forever. We have very little (very expensive) feta, so I was eager to find a replacement. Unfortunately, I also lack a blender and reliable oven in Argentina.

1 cup of blanched almonds
Juice and zest of one lemon (approximately ¼ cup of juice)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 clove of raw garlic (if small clove use it all)
1 ¼ - 1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup water, or more if necessary

In a jar with a lid, cover the blanched almonds with water and refrigerate 24 to 48 hours hours. Then drain the nuts rinse them thoroughly and drain again. The longer soak seems to make the nuts process more completely.
Move the drained nuts and the remaining ingredients to a food processor and puree until the mixture is very smooth but has a very slightly crumbly texture. This took 8 minutes during which time I periodically stopped the processor and scraped the side of the container and restarted the machine. If after 10 minutes the consistency is not smooth you can add up to another ¼ cup of water to help the mixture to process.
If you used the extra water to process the nuts, then take the nut mixture and move it to a strainer lined with three layers of cheesecloth.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees when you are ready to proceed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the cheese onto the baking sheet and form it into a flat disk that is about ¾ of an inch thick. Bake the cheese until it begins to become slightly firm on the top. (About an hour)

Remove the cheese from the oven and allow it to cool to about room temperature before you move it to a serving platter. If you have a wide spatula and have cooked it long enough it will move in one piece. Be careful it is delicate.
To serve: Drizzle the nut cheese with the extra virgin olive oil and salt, freshly cracked pepper and thyme leaves.

Comments: While the recipe wasn't so terrible I had to toss it, from the perspective of cheese, it was a definite FAIL. I found it very lemony—not in a bad way, but too strong to resemble the acid of feta. And of course, my texture was WAY off (I may attempt it again, and steal my roommate's blender for the project)...and it was clearly cooked. Browned on the bottom. I ended up tossing it in various dishes throughout the weak, giving them a lemony, savory twist.

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