The V Word: Just eat it

Seriously, don't ask me about this vegan cheese ball. Ask my omnivore coworkers.

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click to enlarge The V Word: Just eat it - Kate Bradshaw
Kate Bradshaw
The V Word: Just eat it


This may seem counterintuitive, dear reader, but I hope you’re not vegan.

While I’d love it if you were, my fear is that most — if not all — people reading this column already are, and thus are open to what I'm going to say. Meat eaters are probably scared as fuck to read this because changing one’s ways is hard. I know; the thought of smelling like anything other than coconuts is unfathomable to me. But this is important. You and yours need to know about the vegan cheese ball. Now.

The vegetable deliciousness tree falling in the meat forest goes unheard all too often, but you can’t miss this. If all were right with the world, the vegan cheese ball would be poised to be the next Oreo: so absolutely, ridiculously delicious that you think in no way, not even if you believe in the idea of infinite parallel universes, could this be vegan.

Oh, but it is.

And it wasn’t created in a lab. Cashews, my friend. I have made several of these, and the reaction among omnivores is always the same.

The first time I made one was for my best buddy’s bridal shower. I came across a bunch of recipes on the vegan recipe subreddit and thought, ah, this might be interesting — or a disaster. Whatever. The one I found was cashew-based with accents of Sriracha and lime. The hardest part was remembering to empty a bunch of raw cashews into a bowl of water before bed a day or two before the party. But, success! The guests unwittingly annihilated the plant-based cheese ball, learning from me only post-consumption that they'd been eating something that didn’t have dairy.

I mentioned this to co-workers during one subsequent CL editorial meeting. They didn’t believe me. (OK, maybe they did.) So I made another and brought it into the office for tasting on a recent Friday, with the threat that I’d catalog their surprised reactions. Said reactions included:

“Stellar.”

“Holy shit, this is vegan?”

“That’s really fucking good.”

“This just makes me happy.”

In case you’re wondering how cashews could elicit such reactions, they had help from an amazing lil’ substance that’s, sadly, called nutritional yeast, which the cool kids often refer to as “nut yeast.” Neither moniker is exactly marketing gold, I admit, but, damn, the stuff is wonderful.

Anyway, I recommend everyone try this recipe. Vegans, do us proud. Non-vegans, be open-minded for once. You will be richly rewarded, I promise.

Vegan Cheese Ball
Adapted from thefrostedvegan.com

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours (or overnight, whatever)
3 tablespoons Sriracha or hot sauce (or more)
Juice and zest of half a lime (if you only have lemons, no one will notice)
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast (seriously, this is what provides that cheesiness)
3 tablespoons nondairy milk (or slightly less)
Juice of half a lemon (don’t be overzealous here)
1 teaspoon salt
Garlic, whatever amount you and your loved ones are comfortable with
Sliced almonds

Directions

Blend ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl, making them smooth as humanly possible (blender or food processor, whatevs).

The original recipe says to squeeze it all together through cheesecloth, but after doing this several times, I believe chilling the mixture in as round a bowl as you can find for a few hours is probably best. Cover it in cellophane so it doesn’t develop a skin. (This part is key. The second time I made this I didn’t give it enough time to solidify; it was more of a delicious cheesy cashew hummus than anything.)

Spread sliced almonds onto a large plate. Scoop out mixture onto another plate with a rubber spatula, then fashion a ball to the best of your abilities. Roll the ball in almonds. Bob’s your uncle.

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