Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cashew Cheese Toasts with Beluga Lentils

Back when I ate dairy, one of my favorite things was goat cheese on toast.  It was so wonderful alongside a nice big salad or just by itself.  There are so many vegan cheese products out there, but this homemade cashew-based cheese is astonishingly simple (yet elegant) and flavorful.  And it totally tastes like goat cheese!  I initially whipped up this batch of cashew cheese to drizzle on a pizza, but after leaving it in the refrigerator for a few hours, it firmed up to a consistency that left me wanting to spread it on a piece of toast. Fully assembled, this appetizer isn't anything you haven't seen before, but that doesn't mean it won't please the crowd at your Easter brunch!  And when they find out it's 100% vegan?  Watch their jaws drop. 


Makes about 1 cup of cheese for 18-20 small pieces of toast

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight or for at least 2 hours
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon white miso paste
1 clove of garlic
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small 12-inch loaf of your favorite baguette or other type of bread (I used Trader Joe's sunflower seed mini loaf a.k.a. Judy's Lovestick)
1 cup cooked lentils (I used black beluga lentils)
Fresh herbs (Italian parsley, chives, etc) or other greens (micro greens, sprouts, spinach, etc)
  1. Blend the cashews and water in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Add the nutritional yeast, miso paste, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. 
  3. Continue to blend everything together until smooth.
  4. Taste the mixture and adjust it to your liking by adding more nutritional yeast, miso paste, lemon juice, or salt.
  5. Transfer the mixture to an air-tight container and refrigerate for at least an hour to let it firm up to a thick and spreadable consistency.
Assembly:
  1. Turn your oven on to broil.
  2. Slice your bread into 1/2-inch thick pieces.
  3. Spread a generous spoonful of cashew cheese on each slice of bread and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Broil for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned.  Also, keep an eye on the edges of the bread and make sure that they don't get too dark.
  5. Remove from oven and top with a spoonful of lentils and chopped herbs or other greens.  Press the toppings down into the cheese a bit so that they stay in place. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
Wow. Tangy, creamy, crispy yumminess. I honestly think I can eat this everyday.  They're best when eaten fresh out of the oven, so plan your time accordingly if you're serving them at a party.  And feel free to skip the lentils.  I made some without lentils, topped them with micro greens, and they were still out-of-this-world delicious.  You can basically think up with any combination of toppings, so have at it.  Roasted peppers?  Sauteed mushrooms? Steamed beets? Sun-dried tomatoes?  Fresh basil? And let's not forget kale!  You get the gist.  :)

Enjoy!