Making almond milk is easy and the vegan cheese is a low effort bonus

Vegan almond cheese

Active time:20 minutes

Total time:20 minutes, plus 8 hours soaking time

Servings:8 servings (makes about 1 cup)

Active time:20 minutes

Total time:20 minutes, plus 8 hours soaking time

Servings:8 servings (makes about 1 cup)

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Making plant milk from scratch can seem complicated, but consider the alternatives: Store-bought brands often let you choose between an affordable option made up of emulsifiers and thickeners, or a whole-ingredient option whose price is prohibitive.

When I stopped buying cow’s milk, I was spending about $5 a liter on natural cashew milk from my grocery store in Rio de Janeiro. That’s the equivalent of nearly $20 a gallon. As I leaned more towards a plant-based diet and used the milk in oatmeal, smoothies, soups and stews, the cost quickly increased.

To save money, I started testing the nut and seed milk recipes in Amy Chaplin’s “Whole Food Cooking Every Day.” Chaplin soaks most nuts and seeds in water for six to 12 hours (macadamia nuts, cashews, and hemp seeds do not require soaking). Then she rinses them, mixes them with filtered water, and strains the milk using a thin tea towel, cheesecloth, or nut milk bag.

It takes less than five minutes and the variations are endless: I’ve made hazelnut milk, sesame seed milk, even pumpkin seed milk. I buy the nuts and seeds in bulk and store them in my freezer for even more savings. The milks stay fresh for four or five days, and the flavors are cleaner and fresher than anything I’ve bought from the stores.

I settled into a routine of making batches of almond milk and cashew milk each week. I don’t bother straining cashew milk, which is naturally smooth. If I use the almond milk for smoothies, oatmeal, or chia seed pudding, I also leave it unfiltered. But when I want a creamy almond milk, I have to strain it, which leaves me with leftover ground almonds. To reduce food waste, I’ve tried using them in granola, muffins, and cakes. These recipes all required way too much work and way too many dishes.

I was already making almond milk from scratch. I wanted something simpler.

I found a perfect fit by signing up for Chef Tati Lund’s online course on vegan cooking. Lund runs Org Bistro, a vegan restaurant in Rio de Janeiro serving bright platters of quinoa croquettes and fresh salads adorned with edible flowers. She taught me how to turn my leftover almond pulp into soft vegan cheese in minutes.

It’s an infinitely customizable recipe: his version combines the pulp with olive oil, salt, black pepper, dried oregano and miso paste or lime juice. The cheese can be served immediately, although the flavor will deepen and the texture will firm up after about eight hours in the fridge.

My favorite version uses apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. The pulp can be enhanced with finely grated beets for a bright pink result, turmeric for a bright yellow or finely chopped herbs for a flecked green. It makes a simple snack when paired with crackers, cucumber slices or slivered carrots. I use it in a spoonful on a slice of toasted sourdough or as a spread in veggie sandwiches.

The best: to prepare it, no additional dishes are necessary.

Equipment: You must have a powerful blender to do this.

AHEAD: Almonds should be soaked at least 8 hours ahead of time. Cheese tastes best after being refrigerated for at least 8 hours.

Refrigerate cheese for up to 7 days. Refrigerate almond milk for up to 5 days.

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  • 1 cup (5 ounces) raw almonds, soaked for 8 hours or up to overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups filtered water at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 11/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, more if needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried herbs, such as oregano, basil or rosemary
  • Toast, crackers, rice cakes, or sliced ​​vegetables, such as cucumbers and carrots, for serving

Place a bag of nut milk, cheesecloth, or a very thin kitchen towel over a large, fine-mesh strainer. Place the lined colander over a large bowl.

In a high-powered blender, combine the soaked almonds and water. Blend on high speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour the milk into the lined colander. Bring the corners of the fabric together, lift and firmly squeeze the milk into the bowl. Pour the almond milk into a jar or bottle, using a spoon to scoop up any leftover froth to add to the jar or bottle, cover and refrigerate until needed. Use in beverages, oats, cereals, sauces and more. The milk will separate after a few hours; shake before serving.

Rinse and dry the bowl. Add the almond pulp (you should have about 1 1/3 cups), oil, nutritional yeast, if using, vinegar, paprika, garlic powder and salt. Stir until the paprika is evenly distributed and the cheese can easily be formed into a ball, adding more olive oil if the cheese seems dry. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.

Place the almond cheese on a piece of parchment paper and use your hands to flatten it into a thick disc or roll it into a log. Sprinkle the dried oregano on top, then press it onto the surface. Almond cheese can be served immediately but tastes best after being refrigerated for 8 hours.

Serve as a spread with toast, crackers, rice cakes or sliced ​​vegetables.

Per serving of almond spread (2 tablespoons)

Calories: 131; Total fat: 12 g; Saturated fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 149mg; Carbohydrates: 5g; Dietary fiber: 2g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 3g

A nutritional analysis of almond milk is not available due to soaking and dripping.

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from a recipe by Tati Lund, chef at Bistro Org in Rio de Janeiro.

Tested by Jess Eng; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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