You know when you come across a recipe that you know is going to change your life? This one has mine. Seriously. I must first stress here that this is not my recipe, I got it from food dot com whilst on a search for vegan feta. The poster of the recipe states that it is actually from a 2009 edition of Vegetarian Times and was one of the 'editor's picks'. I was prepared to make a vegan feta with cubes of marinated tofu despite preferring to keep my soy levels low but am so glad I found this. The 13 raving reviews also sold me and I set about making it.
It is unbelievably good, full of flavour and remarkably like feta. While all the reviews raved about this cheese most felt it wasn't like feta. I have to disagree, it is almost spot on. I have a few recipes from back in the vegetarian days that need feta and I instantly started thinking about making them! Now normally I don't re-post recipes I make from elsewhere, I'll usually just provide a link back but I will re-post this one as I made a slight change which I'll explain below.
Don't be put off with making cheese, this is so, so easy (especially my way) and very versatile. It crumbles like feta but is also creamy enough in the centre to spread onto crusty bread, crackers, toasted bagels - whatever you like. Also, the original recipe drizzled a thyme and rosemary infused oil over top. While you don't have to do this step at all I chose a dill oil. I'm sure the other herbs is beautiful over this but I had some fresh dill and simply love the stuff, so dill it was! Fresh Greek oregano would be my second choice here, for a more authentic feta.
Edit: I wasn't kidding either! Here are a few fantastic recipes I've made so far with this cheese, this stuff is incredible!!
• Spanakopita (Seriously the best I've ever had!!)
• Jumbo Pasta Shells filled with Basil Almond Feta with Creamy Tomato Sauce
• Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Almond Feta
• Pizza with Almond Feta, Spinach, Black Olives and Spring Onion
• Buckwheat Crêpes filled with Almond Feta and Walnuts with a Tomato Cream Sauce
• Curried Carrot, Zucchini and Almond Feta Fritters
• Hickory Smoked Baked Almond Cheese
• Baby Spinach Salad with Sage Roasted Sweet Potato, Walnuts and Almond Feta
• Creamy Lemon Barley Salad with Asparagus and Peppered Almond Feta
• Simple Creamy Almond Feta, Tomato and Basil Pasta
I've even made a SWEET version with it!
~perfect for a 4th of July celebration~
Now, on with the recipe!
Baked Almond Feta:
145g ground almonds (about 1 1/2 cups)
60ml lemon juice (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup water (4 fl oz)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp salt
Simply place everything there in a blender and blitz until super creamy and smooth. Mine took only a few minutes. Stop and scrape down if need be.
Now line a small bowl with 3 layers of cheesecloth:
Spoon the mixture into the cheesecloth:
Now bring all the sides of the cheesecloth together and tie into a ball, I just use a rubber band. Then place the ball in a strainer and place over a bowl:
Now just place it all in the fridge for about 12 hours. I have made this in the morning and baked it off in the evening or I just leave it overnight and bake it off the next day. After the 12 hours there will be a bit of liquid that has drained off:
If you are using the same dish, wash out the drained liquid and I like to give the dish a dusting of cooking spray to ensure it comes out easily:
Preheat the oven to 180C and unwrap the cheese from the cloth:
...and transfer to the greased baking dish or a lined baking sheet smooth side up:
Bake for about 40 minutes or until slightly golden and cracked on top and firm to the touch:
Now just leave to cool in the dish then it's ready to be transferred to a serving plate or used in a recipe! Enjoy!
The herbed oil is entirely optional, I made it the first time I made this cheese but honestly haven't added the oil the hundreds of times I've since made this cheese. I find it doesn't need it as it's so good on it's own.
Dill Oil: (or whatever fresh herb you like)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
Heat the oil and dill together until just warmed, don't let it simmer. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl and leave to cool.
When ready to serve, remove cheese from the fridge and drizzle over some of the oil. Serve with crusty french bread, crackers, toast triangles....and of course some wine ;-) I served some of it above with butter broiled french bread. You just take some slices of french bread, spread with vegan margarine and broil until golden, repeat with the other side.
Sat Fat: 4.5g
Source: Slightly altered recipe that originally appeared in a 2009 edition of the Vegetarian Times Magazine. Reposted on food.com.
Note: Some were asking in the comments how long this keeps for. I just ate some yesterday that I made 2 weeks ago and it was fine, so, at least 2 weeks!