Cheese is certainly one of life's little pleasures, but it's tough to make a case for eating a food packed with saturated fat on the reg. Luckily for cheese-lovers everywhere—as well as vegans and the lactose intolerant—the rise of dairy alternatives is making it easier to enjoy the decadent treat in a healthier way. In her new book, Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious, Plant-Based Recipes ($25, amazon.com), wellness coach Jules Aron shows readers how to make 60 different types of dairy-free cheese, from spreadable chèvre to classic mozzerella. Here, Aron shares 3 of her delicious recipes: a cauliflower Monterey Jack, feta made with tofu and flavor-packed herbs, and a sweet mascarpone that's perfect for dessert.
This delicate vegetable cheese is a lovely mild white cheese reminiscent of the popular Monterey Jack. It melts beautifully and adapts easily to all your favorite recipes.
Makes an approximately 1-pound block
Prep and cook time: under 30 minutes
Wait time: 4 hours
2 cups cauliflower florets
4 tablespoons vegan gelatin
3 tablespoons organic refined coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup chopped fresh chives
- Steam the cauliflower until tender. Reserve ½ cup of the boiled water from the steamer pot to dissolve the gelatin.
- In a bowl, hydrate the gelatin by sprinkling a little cold water over it to make it bloom. Add the reserved cauliflower water and whisk to combine.
- In a blender, process the cauliflower, coconut oil, lime juice, sea salt, nutritional yeast, onion powder, and garlic powder until smooth. Transfer the gelatin mixture to the blender and add the chives. Blend to combine. Pour the cheese mixture in a container and cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours, until it firms and sets.
- Store, refrigerated, in a sealed container; will keep for 5 to 7 days.
Note: Regular gelatin is made of animal by-products, so if you are vegan, be sure to choose a vegan gelatin, or follow the instructions for using agar instead.
This tofu-based cheese is reminiscent of feta in both taste and texture. It is tangy and salty and is wonderful served with falafel and other Mediterranean favorites. Crumbled or cubed feta drizzled with olive oil is especially lovely on salads and on hummus.
Makes about ½ pound
Prep and cook time: 15 minutes
Wait time: 6 to 8 hours
7 ounces extra-firm tofu
¼ cup organic refined coconut oil, melted
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sea salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried basil
- Drain and press the tofu to release all its liquid. Crumble the tofu into a blender. Add the melted coconut oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and onion powder, and process until smooth. Add the dried herbs and pulse to combine.
- Transfer the cheese mixture to a container lined with plastic wrap or cheesecloth and pack it with a spatula, smoothing the surface. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours to set and firm.
- Wrap the cheese in plastic wrap. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Will keep, refrigerated, for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Tofu, or bean curd, is made from coagulated soy milk that has been pressed into a soft white block. Because firm tofu has less water content than softer tofu, it is higher in protein, fat, and calcium and holds up better in these cheese recipes.
Sweet Italian Mascarpone
This sweet, delicate dessert cheese, best known as the main ingredient in the classic Italian tiramisu, is a delight straight out of the jar. It can also be enjoyed with fruit, in crepes, and as a creamy dessert topping.
Makes about 2 cups
Prep and cook time: 15 minutes
Wait time: 24 to 48 hours to culture and 4 to 6 hours to set
½ cup water, filtered
2 cups raw cashews, rinsed, soaked, and drained
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon chickpea miso paste
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon probiotic powder
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Transfer the mixture to a glass container, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours to culture.
- After fermentation is complete, refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours to firm and set.
- Transfer the cheese into a jar or other airtight container. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
Note: For a decadent treat, make a quick and easy version of the Italian classic tiramisu. Simply layer mascarpone, espresso, and coconut whipped cream in individual cups. Dust with raw cacao powder and serve with ladyfinger-style sweet sponge biscuits.
Excerpted from VEGAN CHEESE: Simple, Delicious, Plant-Based Recipes by Jules Aron. Copyright © 2017. Used with permission of the publisher, Countryman Press. All rights reserved.