Before I became a vegan I used to be addicted to feta cheese. I used to put feta in all my salads and I used to make a lot of dishes with feta (one of my favorite was potato and spinach dish with creamy sauce and feta cheese). Few days ago Debbie @vegandeb was tweeting about a vegan pizza with baked almond feta cheese. I became curious about making my own homemade cheese from nuts. I have been making my vegan feta cheese from tofu until now. Debbie posted the recipe for the baked almond feta cheese on her blog Maple ♥ Spice. She adapted the recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine (Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil). I remembered that I had a copy of the magazine with the original recipe (and other homemade vegan cheese recipes) at home. After flipping through old issues of Vegetarian Times Magazine, I found the original Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil recipe. I had all the ingredients and tools, except for the cheesecloth....... I had to go and buy my very first cheesecloth. Thankfully, I remembered seeing it at Whole Foods so I did not have to go too far to get it. It was very cheap and I was happy to learn that it is reusable. Debbie's version used ground almonds instead of regular almonds, which means skipping the energy and time consuming blanching and soaking steps. What a genius idea! However, I decided to follow the original recipe first even though it took me few days to make. Next time I will be making it based on Debbie's recipe and directions to save time. Here is the link to the original recipe that I used.
This vegan feta cheese is mouthwatering and so delicious, I cannot stop eating it! This stuff is out of this world! It is not as crumbly and firm as a feta should be, the consistency and texture reminds me more of a goat cheese or some other spreadable gourmet cheese. However, the taste is amazing! Salty with a nice garlic kick! When I added little bits and pieces into my Israeli salad and closed my eyes, I swear, I tasted feta cheese. I ate half of the cheese already, some in the salad, some with crackers and some on a toast with tomatoes. I wish I made at least two batches when I made this. I am happy that it turned out so great because I would be really upset if I spent all this time and preparation for something that would taste awful.
Starting with raw almonds........
Blanching raw almonds was a pain in the neck. I poured boiling water over the almonds and let them sit for a few minutes until their skins became puffy. Then I popped each almond out of its skin, one by one......
Beautiful blanches almonds :-) Nice and shiny!
Soaking blanched almonds for 24 hours.
Getting the "magical" ingredients ready.
Pureeing everything in the blender until smooth and creamy.
The recipe called for a strainer over a bowl, but I was crafty and used vegetable steamer in a salad bowl with a lid so the cheese would not make my whole fridge smell like garlic and it would not absorb any smells from other foods.
I spooned the pureed almond mixture into cheesecloth and secured the top. I placed that on top of my vegetable steamer and chilled overnight.
Unwrapped almond cheese before baking. Still very mushy and soft. baking on a low temperature for an hour (I had to increase the time because the cheese was still very soft after the recommended baking time).
Beautiful baked almond cheese topped with oregano oil, basil oil and fresh parsley.
Almond feta cheese with crackers. This stuff makes an amazing dip and spread.
Tonight's dinner: Israeli couscous salad with almond feta cheese. Absolutely delightful!