Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Vegan Cheese & Gluten Free Baked Ziti

WOW!  There isn't much more to say really.  This cheese is so rich and decadent,  so luscious and creamy...and so VEGAN!   I used it in a baked ziti, but you could totally make it thicker to spread onto crackers.  The possibilities are endless.  It certainly isn't fat free, but eaten once in a while is okay in my book.

2 cups raw cashews (soaked for at least an hour/drained)
3 Fresh basil leaves 
2 tbs Arrowroot powder or Corn starch 
2 cups Non dairy milk (I used plain almond milk) 
2 tbs Earth balance (I used soy free)
1/4 c Nutritional yeast
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Sea salt
Cracked pepper to taste

Soak and drain your cashews.  Put them into your food processor and process until they form a paste.  You can add a tablespoon of water if you like to help it along.  In a pot, melt the Earth Balance, add the milk and whisk in the arrowroot powder.  Chop the basil and add to the pot.  Bring to a boil while whisking. Turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. 

Add the milk mixture to the food processor with the cashews.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process again.  Process all ingredients until you get a creamy cheese.  If you want it to be thinner, add a little more milk.  If it is too thin, add more arrowroot or corn starch.  You may want to adjust the salt as well, it might need a bit more.

HERE is the recipe I used the cheese in.  I made a gluten free/vegan baked spinach ziti. I cooked a pound and a half of gluten free pasta.  Then  I added a bag of cooked organic spinach to the cheese and then blended it with my pasta and some homemade garlic marinara I had on hand.  Then I baked it for about an hour @ 350. 

I served this with some eggplant (m)eatballs too.  My vegan guests and non vegan guests on New Years Eve were in love with this dish.  I can't tell you how rich and decadent this was.  It's a special occasion recipe for sure, but it is one that you and your guests will remember and request!! 


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