Vegan Cashew Ricotta Cheese (Or, I had Burrata… Once)

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manicotti
Dave made these cashew cheese-filled manicotti for his non-vegan mom, and she LOVED them!

The thing about cheese is that it’s kinda delicious, so I have to admit I understand why so many people I talk to – including those who’ve already given up meat – say they could never be vegan because they love cheese too much. I get it; for most of my life I was a huge fan of cheese and all things cheesy, too.

In fact, on the night before we went to Farm Sanctuary (which was the experience that led us to veganism), we were treated to a beautiful vegetarian antipasto dinner made for us by our good friend, Steve, that included a fresh mozzarella-type cheese I had never had before, called burrata. I thought it was so fantastic tasting I pretty much pledged on the spot to eat it everyday for the rest of my life.

But that was then, and this is now. Fast forward to going vegan…

Based on what we learned at Farm Sanctuary about how the dairy industry operates, it was easy for us to leave all cheeses, including burrata, behind us. The next step, though, was finding the right dairy-free alternative, and that was a bit of an adventure for me. I think it’s fair to say you actually need to adopt an adventurous attitude when you’re shopping around for the right vegan cheese to feed your family. Some on the market are really good, while others will remind you exactly why you have a gag reflex! This was true of the very first vegan cheese I tried (I don’t remember what kind it was; I just remember it being incredibly bad in smell, texture, taste… everything). I brought it home, opened the package and sliced into it with great anticipation and optimism, put it in my mouth, spit it out straightaway, and tossed the rest directly into the garbage. It was a sad day, and I was definitely thinking, “Oh crap, what if this is as good as it gets?” But of course it’s not, and now I’ve sampled enough that I can recommend these fine non-dairy cheese products to you:

Follow Your Heart gouda and provolone sandwich slices

Daiya shredded mozzarella and cheddar

Tofutti sour cream

Kite Hill cream cheese

Heidi Ho Ne Chèvre Black Lava (great spread on crackers)

Beyond what you can find at the grocery store, you can also make your own vegan cheese at home. Dave has learned to make a cashew ricotta that’s excellent and perfect for stuffing manicotti and ravioli or layering into a lasagna. I plan to try making my own cannoli with it at some point and will post that recipe once I’ve nailed it.

To summarize: Burrata, schmurrata… when you make an informed choice and feel as strongly as we do about that choice, saying goodbye to foods you can no longer love is a cinch.

CASHEW RICOTTAcashew ricotta

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted cashews (soaked)

1/2 cup water

1 large lemon, juiced

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

1 clove garlic, pressed

3 dashes (or to taste) onion powder

salt (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Soak cashews for two hours (minimum) or overnight. Water should cover cashews by 2-3 inches.
  2. Drain cashews, then add all ingredients into a food processor, and blend until mixture is creamy.
  3. Taste, add salt as desired.
  4. Mixture can be refrigerated. If you refrigerate, you may need to add extra water before piping into pasta.

*Recipe makes enough to fill approx. 2 boxes of manicotti shells.

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6 Comments




  1. // Reply

    Read with interest the latest article about cheese. As you know I love it!!! YUM!! But, I have also had some of the vegan cheeses you have tried, that spreadable one last year at Thanksgiving was very good (don’t remember the name). And, I am willing to try some of the ones you mentioned and the recipe sounds very good. Since I am not a cream cheese lover nor a sour cream lover I might pass on those two products, but who knows, maybe vegan products would taste better to me.


    1. // Reply

      Although the alternatives don’t always have the exact taste as “the real thing,” they should be – and in most cases are – tasty in their own right!


  2. // Reply

    I do love a good burrata, but those cashew cheese-filled manicotti look pretty darn delicious. Happy eating!


    1. // Reply

      They ARE delicious. We made them for Dave’s mom and our nieces and they raved about them. We felt successful!

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