Raw Cashew Cheese Recipe

I am about as omnivorous as they come, but I have a keen interest in the diet of those who decide to — or must — walk an alternate path, be it vegetarian, vegan, raw, or allergen-free.

The reason why I’m so interested is that cooking and eating under constraints such as these encourages those who do to think out of the box, seek out new ingredients or look at old ones in a different light, and invent techniques, recipes, and dishes that come to enrich the general pool of foods that everyone else can enjoy, if they’re curious enough to try them.

When I was in Los Angeles last spring promoting my Paris book, I was excited to finally visit Real Food Daily, a long-established vegan restaurant I had first heard of through its same-name cookbook a few years ago.

And because I was flying out that night, I also ordered a wrap to go, which I ate placidly on the plane, as the passenger seated next to me considered her in-flight meal with palpable despair.

I had a lovely meal there (a Ciao Bella sandwich and a glass of juice) and because I was flying out that night, I also ordered a wrap to go, which I ate placidly on the plane, as the passenger seated next to me considered her in-flight meal with palpable despair.

Once home, I picked up the book again and, leafing through it with a fresh eye (that was after I’d recovered from the jetlag), noticed a recipe that propelled me from couch to kitchen — a phenomenon every cookbook reader lives for.

The recipe was for cashew cheese, a sort of vegan alternative to the dairy kind. The idea was intriguing, the process a cinch, and I had all the ingredients in my pantry.

Instant gratification it was not, since the recipe has you soak the cashews for a couple of hours and leave the “cheese” to set for a day, but delayed gratification is fine by me, especially when it takes such a flavorsome form.

Those of us who consume the real thing at every meal in moderation will agree that calling this preparation “cheese” is a bit of a stretch — and I don’t mean the mozzarella kind –, yet its texture does evoke that of homemade ricotta, and it is a delight in its own right: a fluffy-smooth and subtly sweet spread, which we enjoyed on fresh baguette, on oatcakes, and in pita sandwiches. And if you want to follow the raw food trail all the way, I’m sure it will do well on dehydrated seed crackers.

(P.S.: I am going to a Thanksgiving potluck on Thursday — pumpkin pie, here I come! As a contribution, I considered bringing my mother’s cauliflower gratin, a zucchini and mushroom crumble, or some aged gouda and dried pear scones, but finally decided on this warm salad of roasted squash and white beans.)

Raw Cashew Cheese Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 26 hours, 10 minutes

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Raw Cashew Cheese Recipe

Ingredients

  • 190 grams (1 1/2 cups) plain cashew nuts (not roasted or salted)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) water
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine (optional; substitute water if preferred)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or good vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the nuts in a salad bowl, cover with fresh water, and let stand for 2 hours.
  2. Drain the nuts and place them in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) water and the rest of the ingredients, and mix until thoroughly puréed, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl every once in a while. Add a little more water if necessary and blend again to adjust the consistency; the cheese will get a little more solid as it sets.
  3. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and let stand somewhere cool for 24 hours before placing in the fridge, where it will keep for another 5 days.

Notes

Adapted from Real Food Daily.

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  • http://www.kattebelletje.com kattebelletje

    Sounds like an intriguing enough dip to try… and yummy too!

  • http://www.messyvegetariancook.com Kip

    Cashews are fantastic for a vegan diet! The base to delicious “ice creams,” a sauce in lasagnes, and so much more :)

  • http://my.opera.com/Rhiga/blog/ Renato

    This is quite a curious “cheese”! Afterall, I’ve always thought of using nuts in sweet spreads… Gotta try that!

  • Mrs. Buttons

    I was all set to make a white bean dip for Thanksgiving but now it’s got to be this one. I’m so excited.

    It’s worth mentioning that soaking seeds and nuts overnight aids in digestion and nutrient absorption.

  • http://www.vegan-vanguard.blogspot.com Christina

    You can make a lovely sweet cream with cashews as well. We call it cashew créme, and I like to soak the cashews for two days in the fridge, then blend with vanilla, agave nectar or maple syrup and sometimes cinnamon or lemon zest.

    My favorite savory nut cheese is macadamia. I do the same process you used for the cashew cheese, but I just add umeboshi vinegar. It reminds me of chevre.

  • http://www.heythattastesgood.com jill

    When I tell people that the reason I like being gluten-free is that it makes cooking and baking a challenge, they think I’m crazy. But it is! Cooking and baking is much more interesting!

  • http://jacquelinechurch.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1593:the-other-side-the-raw-food-trend-fakin-bacon-&catid=43:ldg&Itemid=53 jacqueline

    Here is a piece on a vegan, vegetarian and raw foodist cafe in town. They shared their “dip” recipe, but as you observed it’s more like a spread.
    http://tinyurl.com/66lk6w

    If people have issues or allergies with nuts, they’re in trouble, especially if they’re raw foodists. Tofu is cooked!

    I have a friend that must avoid dairy now for health reasons. Serious health reasons. She craves cheese and I keep thinking we should do a “fake cheese” tasting. Just doesn’t seem to be fun enough for either of us to motivate to do!

    ~ Jacqueline

  • http://globalveggie.wordpress.com Jo

    Looks – and sounds – wonderful. Similar to nut spreads that are available in more and more varieties, but this recipe has more zing. Here in London we have a raw food restaurant called Saf (part of an international mini-chain), which does truly delicious raw food dishes and is very famous for its ‘raw cheese’ platter. I’ll definitely try your recipe, thank you.

  • http://deliciouslygf.blogspot.com Vittoria

    Wow! I love reading your sight even though there’s hardly anything I can eat. I’m one of those on a strict, prescriptive, alternative diet (for health reasons). I can have hard cheese but I have to try this alternative to soft cheese. Thank you!

  • http://theendivechronicles.com/ Erin

    I love cashew “cheese” and often prepare a version that contains nutritional yeast and cayenne pepper. Both add a that certain creamy something to the cheese.

    Have a great time at your Thanksgiving potluck. I will be bringing my cauliflower gratin, Brussels sprouts and pumpkin tart to my parent’s celebration.

  • http://www.farinhacomrapadura.blogspot.com Marcia H

    Hi, this is the first time I write something here.

    Just a note. The cashew, although white, is not raw, because you need to roast the big, oily and acid outside to take out what we call “cashew nut”.

    In Brazil (where I come from) we eat the green nut, cooked and it’s a lot of work to get it out of the “shell”, because the oil burns the skin of our fingers.

    I’d call this a cream, but it must taste good.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Marcia – Thanks for pointing that out; I’ve corrected the post and recipe.

  • http://greshkaetcamille.canalblog.com Camille

    I’m so happy to find this recipe. You almost convinced me to try alternative butter, and I have no more excuses now to cook it!

  • http://www.hertzmann.com Peter Hertzmann

    If you think back 500 years or so to medieval France, cow’s milk was rarely used plain because it spoiled too fast and couldn’t be eaten on “lean” days, which were about half the calendar. They used, as a substitute, almond milk. It didn’t go bad fast and could be eaten on both “fat” and “lean” days. they made many things from this “milk.” My article on blanc-manger (http://xrl.us/oyd9b) goes into more detail about this.

  • http://eatingthroughsf.blogspot.com Kasey

    I love RFD! I always make my LA friends take me there whenever I visit. They have delicious, inventive dishes and I always get excited to try to recreate them at home. Definitely considering buying the book.

  • A student

    A rather lovely-looking recipe, but what is a Thanksgiving potluck? As an anthropology student I have visions of a modified potlatch…

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    A student – In American English, a potluck, or potluck dinner, is “a meal, esp. for a large group, to which participants bring various foods to be shared.” (Definition kindly provided by the Random House Unabridged Dictionary.)

  • http://www.fromsingletomarried.com Tabitha (From Single to Married)

    what a great idea! I’m a big fan of using things such as almond butter and tahini – adds good flavor while being healthier for you than some alternatives. I’ll have to try this!

  • Oma Kaat

    Non roasted cashew’s? Any hints/ideas about where to buy them? In Holland, preferably – if possible?

  • http://squishyness14.blogspot.com/ Amelita (Squishy)

    How interesting. It is amazing what you can do with nuts. Great post.

  • celine

    It looks delicious: I love cashew nuts!
    Are these “my” English oatcakes I see on the picture? If so, they and I feel honoured! :-)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Oma – I’ve seldom shopped for food in Holland, but here in Paris, you can find unroasted unsalted cashews at Asian grocery stores or in organic stores.

    Céline – Yes, they’re yours! :)

  • Amy

    Clotilde, I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow. I just have to tell you that your Pear and Chocolate tart from the Paris Guide Book is the perfect addition to this years Thanksgiving. The presentation is great, the flavors are seasonal, and it just tastes marvelous. Thank you for the great recipe, fun guide book and Happy Thanksgiving.

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn at Taste With With The Eyes

    Dear Clotilde – I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I wanted to tell you that I linked your blog today, as we made your delicious Chestnut and Mushroom Soup this morning, to serve at our Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, and it rocked, so I wrote about it on my blog. Thank you! It is a great recipe, easy AND elegant. Gotta love that on a big prep day like today. Can’t wait for my guests to try it…

    Lori Lynn

  • Liza

    Hi Clotilde,
    I am rushing to say that this recipe is absolutely brilliant! I couldn’t imagine that it would come out so good (yes, I’ve already made it!!)! It’s unexpectedly delicious and cheesy in a good way. Thank you so much and happy Thanksgiving to you! :)

  • Jennifer

    I started to read your lovely blog only during this summer (for some reason I didn’t think I’d enjoy it before but I was quite wrong and I am completely charmed and addicted) and am reading each post, from the beginning (but not too many in one day as I am savoring them).

    When I read about the zucchini and mushroom crumble you and your Mom made I knew that I would make that for Thanksgiving. I made it yesterday and it was wonderful! My guests tore through it and there is very little left over (which is gratifying but a bit disturbing as I was looking forward it eating those leftovers this weekend). I took a few liberties and used dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, cremini, and oyster) and used the soaking liquid while sautéing to add flavor and I used panko instead of regular breadcrumbs (I had them in the house). It was a most delicious dish! I also made the cumin spiced carrot fries but took a few liberties here as well and just bought whichever root and cruciferous vegetables looked interesting so I ended up with a gorgeously colorful bowl of delicious roasted in cumin-purple cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips, celery root, and beets (I also made stir fried sweet potatoes with sage, toasted walnuts and walnut oil (adapted from a NY Times recipe) or I would have added sweet potatoes to the cumin vegetable mixture). All was really fabulous and very much appreciated by my guests (I did actually make a poultry main dish-turkey breast roasted with onions and cranberries and duck roasted with apples and herbs).

    Thank you for the wonderful blog and the terrific recipes and I look forward to more of them as I read more of your archives (I’m up to April 2004).

    I am also very much looking forward to going to the Rose Bakery and some of the other cafes/shops you mention in Paris when my husband and come to Paris for our annual shopping expeditions.

    Merci.

  • Rachel

    Cashew cheese also makes an excellent base for a vegetarian pate (which is good as is, but even better en croute – that was my Thanksgiving main course yesterday). Speaking of which, I’m curious to hear about your Thanksgiving potluck!

  • http://sunnypetropoullakis.blogspot.com sunny

    I will give this recipe to my friend.She makes her own cashew butter.

  • Jim Colaizzi

    I made cashew cheese last night, and while best described as a spread, it was a big hit. I needed about double the water suggested (1/2 cup), more salt, and used apple vinegar, which gave it the perfect Northeastern fall tang for the holidays. I can’t wait to make it again. Thank you!

  • http://www.coimbatorezone.com coimbatore

    i gave this recipe to my mom.she made the Cashew cheese and it was very tasty… Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • Bebe

    okay, I realise it’s a bit random, but the bit about pumpkin pie got me wondering –
    how do you call a pumpkin in French??
    So far, I’ve heard/read/used the following three words without really knowing the difference, and people don’t seem to be quite able to explain:
    Potiron, Citrouille, and Giraumon ??
    And how would you translate pumpkin pie into French?

  • Dawn in CA

    Oooh, I must give this a try. I am dairy-free for health reasons (sadly), and cheese is one of the things I miss the most. So far, I have not found any decent substitutes for two of my favorite cheeses: brie and blue. But maybe this cashew “cheese” will ease my cheese-free pain a bit. :)

  • http://www.farinhacomrapadura.blogspot.com Marcia H

    Clotilde,
    have a look at this site.
    although in Portuguese, this is a recipe with the really raw cashew nut. You can see the pictures ;-)

    I love your site!

  • emily

    A better way to make this is to make cashew nut milk out of it first (delicious) and use the strained cashew nuts to make the cheese.

    First, soak the nuts for 4-8 hours. Drain and rinse the nuts, put into a food processor or blender and add 3 parts cold water to 1 part nuts. Blend until liquid. Strain with a wire mesh strainer, cheese cloth, or nut bag. Keep the strained nut puree to make the cheese.

    I would recommend adding nutritional yeast, acidophilus, or rejuvelac to assist in culturing the cheese.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Bebe – Citrouille, potiron, and giraumon are just three different varieties of winter squash. When unsure about the specific variety, you’ll use citrouille for a very large one (the kind you’d want to carve), but potiron for the one you eat.

    Emily – Thanks for sharing, I’ll give it a try!

  • Don in Bangkok

    I made raw cashew cheese a few days ago, but after reading the description of the dish and all the comments, I decided that this is more of a dip or spread than it is cheese. So I made one change that I think made the dish more interesting. I doubled the recipe and substituted white wine for water that’s added after the water for soaking the raw cashews is drained off. I also was a bit heavy on the garlic and black pepper. I added about a fourth cup more water during the blending process.

    A friend liked the spread and wanted the recipe, but I didn’t tell him about the wine. I gave him the recipe as written above and he made it exactly to the recipe. He called me later and told me that my “cheese” turned out better.

    We both had some of our raw cashew cheese left over and we compared the two with friends–everyone liked the wine recipe better. To be fair, many were drinking wine during this taste test.

  • Whitney

    This recipe was just what I was looking for! I also added a little bit of nutritional yeast to get more of a cheese-y flavor. Thanks for posting this :)

  • Elaine Sokoloff

    I shouted with laughter at the “cross out” … “those that consume the real thing (at every meal) in moderation”…!!!

    Thank you for the recipe and the hearty laugh!

  • http://www.makeraw.com Mark

    Thank you for sharing this simple recipe. I had left over soaked cashews from an ice cream recipe so this was perfect. And it is really satisfying! I added minced cilantro to make it an herb cheese spread. Thanks again.

  • Sarah

    I’m a dairy-free, vegetarian from Los Angeles, and have tried the cashew cheese at many of the vegan restaurants in town. The cashew cheese at RFD is pretty good (although if you want some amazing vegan the next time you’re in LA, please check out Flore in Silverlake).
    That said, the cashew cheese recipe that I’ve had that most resembles real cheese is by Charlie Trotter (Raw Cookbook). The recipe is simple, but the product that you get tastes just like ricotta and is fabulous on a veggie pizza.
    Here’s a link to it at epicurious.

  • http://wholebeingwellness.net Sylvia

    Organic really raw cashews are available now at many health food stores and online-they are removed from the shells without heating. Cashews are loaded with alfatoxins so they must be organic. Nuts that are cooked are rancid so myst be eaten raw only.

  • Chase

    Just made this and loved it! Used half chicken broth and coconut milk instead of water and it’s really good. :)

  • Fifivixen

    Hi Clotilde,

    Are you sure it is only 1/4 cup of water? I found 1/4 cup of water doesn’t even cover the cashew nuts. Is there something I am doing wrong?

    I’ve just soaked them so please let me know.

    Thanks
    Fifi

  • sam

    you use as much water as you need for soaking and strain it away after the 2 hours.

    the 1/4c water is added afterwards for blending it.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for clearing that up, Sam!

  • Adriana

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Is there a recipe for the oatcakes too?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      No, the oatcakes are store-bought! I’ll have to try making them from scratch sometime, though.

  • SP

    Thanks for this recipe! I just made it, and now have a tub of cashew cheese in the fridge. Wondering if you can point me to specific recipes in which to now use this cheese?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I like to spread it on crackers for a snack, or use it on pizzas, such as this cep and walnut pizza.

  • Jenacc

    I just bought raw cashew butter to make this cheese and I see now that the soaking process is a key step…Has anyone made cashew cheese from cashew butter? If so, please advise me on the process.
    Thanks,
    jen

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’ve never tried it, and don’t think it can be done: once the oils have been extracted from the cashews (as in cashew butter), you won’t get the creamy-but-spreadable consistency of cashew “cheese”. However, you can make a very good sauce following the principle of this tahini sauce.

  • http://jesseanneo.blogspot.com/ jesse.anne.o
    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m glad you liked it, thanks for the link!

  • Bob

    Like you, I’m an omnivore (though I rarely touch red meat), and I’ve made this a few times. It can also be used as a base for an incredible pasta sauce: increase the blending water from 1/4 to 1/2 cup (or more, if necessary, until you get a whipped cream texture); after blending, stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste and some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste; toss with your favorite pasta (I prefer penne), and garnish with toasted walnuts and/or broccoli florets.

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