Friday, July 3, 2009

Victory! (vegan oregano ricotta)

I love (slash hate) her demonic face. This is what happens to us when we eat cheese people!

Cheese cheese cheese cheese cheese. Everyone loves cheese, most people can't get enough if it. Many people can't eat cheese without some adverse reaction and sometimes, that adverse reaction effects those around them as well. Cheese is the vegetarians hanger on. What keeps a veg from a vegan, the last great temptation. Cheese makes us smile and then snotty (not in attitude, in literal terms). Cheese will hurt our bellies, make us fat, break out our skin, trigger our asthma and allergies, and yet we forgive it, we let it back in for its sharp, salty, creamy flavor.

When asking my cleanse groups what they are nervous about giving up the top answer always is cheese. The second is wine. Perhaps the french have it right (and have it made) they drink the best wine and eat the ripest cheese, most of it not pasteurized... there is something to that way of eating. Do you think there may be a difference between a fresh piece of cheese from the farm and our american and cheddar at the deli?

Anyway this post is not about the French's cheese, although when I experience it for myself I will be in touch. It is about an alternative. Noooo, horror, boring! Listen, we need it people, you know it, I know it. Cheese is making us poopy (pun intended) and we need to help ourselves along with this little addiction of ours.

In my column to the left you'll find Ani's Raw Food Kitchen cookbook (or uncookbook as Ani would have it) and in there is a beautiful collection of nut based cheeses. I have had nut cheeses many times in the past, but had never made any for myself. I was excited to try out a recipe and happy I did. You may want to give this a try as well, especially if you are recently realizing that cheese doesn't work for you anymore (or if you've always known it, but choose feeling ill over skipping it at a party).

Oregano Ricotta
Enjoy as a substitute for pizza cheese, lasagna, or simply serve it between slices of heirloom tomatoes.

2 medium garlic cloves
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups cashews
juice of 2 lemons, about 4 Tbl
1 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T oregano
1/2 cup water as needed

Process garlic and salt into small pieces. Add cashews and process into powder. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and oregano and process. Add only enough water to make chunky ricotta cheese texture.

Will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.

Since I was experimenting, I chose to half the recipe (I wanted to use it all at once and have none left over). Making lasagna? Make all of it. Pizza? half it, unless you want to eat it with heirlooms...yum.

I used my new cheese on pizza with roasted eggplant, mushrooms, and onions. Because the cheese is raw I didn't want to heat it too high a temperature. So I cooked all the veggies, and pizza crust in the oven, then spread the cheese, topped with fresh tomato slices and warmed it in the oven after it was turned off. Delicious!

And now, to peel a mushroom.....

You aren't "supposed" to rinse mushrooms. They are spongy and will absorb water. A chef would never do it. I always used to. Mostly, because the best way to clean a mushroom, is to brush it clean using a cloth or paper towel. Because my kitchen is never stocked with paper towels (not a necessary paper product) and it always seemed more of a hassle to muddy a dish towel and have to wash it. I would rinse my mushrooms very quickly, trying not to get too much water on their spongy underbelly. Now I peel them, really easy, really quick, and no used towels.

Just grab the lip from the underbelly side and peel up towards the middle.


Hannah said...

Love this post, I usually just eat some dirt with my shrooms!!!

JG said...

great recipe! leave cheese to the breeze!! thanks.

grasshopper said...

hah, now thanks to your article i feel like pizza somethin' fierce; thank goodness my favorite place near where I live delivers

Stacie said...

oooo I am so glad I read this! I just posted about my cheese addiction. Nut cheeses...who knew??? I'm excited :)