Mozzarella That Does Double Duty as Ricotta
Cheese is something that, when you follow a plant-based diet, can be difficult to replace. Sure, there are plenty of store-bought options that you can find but they tend to be pricey and not readily available in all areas. There are also those days when you just might not want to go out searching for that elusive vegan cheese and would rather stay in and relax.
This quick and easy vegan mozzarella is a double-duty powerhouse! If made as-is, it is a great substitute for a traditional wet mozzarella. It’s mild in flavor and creamy. It can be spread over a tortilla when warm, or with a quick addition it works well as a ricotta for lasagnas and stuffed shells.
There are definitely recipes out there that will yield a more silky and solid type of mozzarella but they call for much more difficult to get ingredients such as Agar Powder or Kappa Carrageenan. I’m sure that those recipes are amazing, but I prefer to use a no fuss, no muss approach :-)
The most important piece of this recipe is the cashews. You’ll need to use pre-softened cashews which involves either soaking them in water overnight (which means you really need to plan ahead) or, you can also boil them for 15 minutes or so minutes to soften them.
I’ve taken to boiling several cups of them at at time and freezing them afterward so that I always have softened cashews on hand. They thaw really quickly so the freezing part is not a problem.
1/2 cup soaked or boiled raw cashews
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/4 cup water
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp Kala Namak
1 tsp garlic powder
Place all ingredients except for the cashews into a high-powered blender (a Vitamix is a fab option) or food processor. Once the ingredients are combines, add the rcashews. Blend on high speed for 2–3 minutes until smooth and warm—blending for longer is not a problem as it helps the tapioca starch add even more stretchiness to the recipe :-)
Pour the cheese mixture into a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Cook for 5ish minutes while stirring constantly with a silicone spatula until the cheese forms into a gooey ball in the center.
As long as the cheese is warm, it will stay pretty soft and can be spread and used immediately.
Or, if you’d like to transform this magnificent creation to something much more like ricotta it’ll require just two extra steps:
First, use a melon-baller to scoop out balls of the still-warm mozzarella into an ice bath. An ice bath is simply a largish bowl filled with ice, water and a good helping of salt—maybe a tablespoon or so.
Then, once you’ve scooped all the cheese into the ice bath remove the cheese balls and place in a covered container and pop it into the fridge for about a half hour. When the mixture is set up and good and cold, remove the cheese balls and place into a mixing bowl.
Now, all you need to do is add in a tablespoon each of dried basil and dried oregano and push the herbs through the cheese with a fork to form a curd-like texture to the cheese. Voila, you’ve just made a ricotta-like cheese perfect for lasagna or stuffed shells!