The other day I set out to make cashew cheese. I gathered all my ingredients but couldn’t find the main ingredient: cashews. Baffled, I went to go ask my mom who had told me that after a successful Costco run, she had picked up a nice big bag of cashews and pecans.
Assuring me again that there was a huge mass of cashews hiding in our cupboard, she decided to look after my failed attempts at locating them. She pulled out a bag of almonds. “See, they're right here!” Cue eye roll.
My mom has been known for mixups like these. A childhood memory that I remember quite clearly was when my dad and I lost her at the zoo. My father was quick to dial her up, telling her to find the giraffes and stay put as that was the exhibit we were next to. My mom was convinced that she was already near these long-necked animals, yet we couldn’t see her anywhere. When we finally reconvened later, it turned out she had confused the zebras for giraffes. You call it an innocent brain fart, I call it the start of many senior moments...jk, I love you, mom!
Anyways, with a big bag of almonds staring back at me, I knew that I’d have to adapt a bit. So I thought why not try a recipe similar to my standard cashew cheese with a few modifications. Surprisingly, it worked out quite well!
First, however, I had to blanch my almonds which was a bit of a pain, but all that extra effort translated into an even tastier product—at least that’s how I’m justifying it to myself!
After blanching, the rest was pretty easy. You always have to let your nuts soak in warm water regardless of which type you’re working with as they become softer in texture. After waiting for the soaking to be done, everything is chucked into the food processor where it’s pulsed until silky smooth.
What makes this recipe so wonderful is the fact that it adds garden herbs. Though I chose to stick strictly to a healthy handful of basil, you can add rosemary, dill, chives...anything really! The second those blades get chopping, your kitchen will smell so amazingly herby!
Being a big basil lover, I loved how it worked to brighten the mellow taste of the almonds, adding an intoxicatingly fragrant dimension to this vegan cheese!
Though you’ll probably want to enjoy this cheese right away, you can also store it in the fridge in a tupperware container where it should keep for a couple of weeks or so, if it’s not devoured before then!
Completely vegan, this cream cheese is great on a slice of bread, in sandwiches, with crackers or even on top of a piece of grilled chicken breast. Wherever you decide to schmear this spread, it’s definitely going to add a fresh, herby twist!
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Almond Basil Cream Cheese
*Makes 12 servings*
2 cups almonds, blanched
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
1 handful of basil
Blanch the almonds, if they aren’t already without their skins. Do this by letting the almonds sit in boiling hot water for 30 seconds. Drain then and the skins should slip right off.
Fill a bowl with boiling hot water and add the blanched almonds. Let almonds sit for 30 minutes.
Drain the water and add the almonds to a food processor. Pulse for 15 seconds.
Add lemon juice, vinegar, oil, water, salt, pepper, mustard and basil. Continue to pulse in increments of 10 seconds.
Pulse until the almond mixture is silky. You may need to add a splash more oil if you’d like a creamier consistency.
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy!