A Carnivore’s Continuing Vegan Cooking Adventures – This Time, Vegan “Cheese”

Although I am not interested in going vegan myself, or even vegetarian, I’ve been having a lot of fun trying out new vegan recipes so that Casey and I can share meals – shared cooking is always more fun to me than when I’m only eating it myself!  I’ve been extremely pleased with my attempts using roasted butternut and/or a cashew wine sauce in places you might otherwise find cheese, but I do miss being able to cook with cheese.  Store-bought vegan “cheese” unfortunately leaves much to be desired (except more of the storebosugh vegan cheese!) so I turned to Pinterest for homemade options.  I was thrilled to find a “mozzarella” that looked fairly easy to pull off because I was again in the mood for pizza, so I made this recipe for Vegan “Mozzarella” my first attempt and declared it [pizza night once more.

The recipe, copied from gourmandelle.com, is as follows:


Author: Ruxandra Micu
Recipe type: Cheese
Cuisine: Italian
For vegan mozzarella balls:
  • 2 cups (~250g) raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1⅔ cups (~400ml) hot water
  • 6 Tbsps tapioca starch/flour
  • 4 Tbsps nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
For cheesy, extra-sticky mozzarella sauce:
  • 1 cup (~150g) raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups (~500ml) hot water
  • 7 Tbsps tapioca starch/flour
  • 4 Tbsps nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
For vegan mozzarella balls:
  1. Put all ingredients in your food processor or blender. Blend well until it has the consistency of milk.
  2. Put a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Pour the “milk” in the pan.
  4. Start stirring continuously.
  5. After a few minutes the cheesy sauce with start to thicken. Cook it while continuously stirring for about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes.
  7. Fill a large bowl with ice cold water. Add 1 Tbsp of salt and dissolve it.
  8. Using an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, start scooping small mozzarella balls from the composition.
  9. Put the balls in the water and let them cool for one minute. You can refine their shape using your hands too.
  10. Do this until you finish the composition. You can store the vegan mozzarella balls in the fridge for a couple of days.

There is also a version to use as a cheese sauce.  Tapioca, it turns out, makes a great stretchy binder – not as surprising considering the tapioca pearls that make bubble tea so much fun but I wouldn’t have thought to use it to make vegan cheese on my own.  The Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast flakes are fairly ubiquitous in vegan cheese recipes.  I used only 3 Tbsp because I find them somewhat overpowering, and I will reduce that to two and add a tiny bit of sweetener, and more salt, next time I make this because in my opinion while it was satisfying stretchy and cheesy, fresh mozzarella has little “cheesy” taste and more faintly sweet saltiness.

I WILL absolutely make it again.  It wasn’t very hard, the “cheese” makes the most entertaining play-doh like ball as it cooks, and it brought back the same warm gooey comfort to my pizza the cashew sauce was good for. I’d like to try it in a casserole situation, and I’ll be trying the sauce version as well.
I’m really glad that I bought us a regular blender a few months before Casey decided to go mostly vegan; pretty much any vegan recipe out there, apparently, involves a “put everything in the blender” step at some stage.
Things start out looking very much like a typical cheese sauce…
But as the tapioca heats it thickens and binds,
Allowing you to form sticky, doughy “cheese” balls that go into ice water to firm up.
They look very much like dumplings, but the fresh mozzarella texture is pretty close!
Since we were able to have “cheese” pizza, I went more traditional this time using the red-pepper tomato sauce from my squash casserole,
and of course I had to throw some spinach in the mix!
The verdict?  Success!

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