Wednesday, September 4, 2013

VeganMoFo 3: Cashew Cheese Bagel of Wonder

Three words:  lazy blog post.  One word:  deeeeelicious.  That's what I thought about my breakfast this morning.  I know posting photos daily meals is more of an Instagram thing (yes, I do that!), but I just thought I'd devote an entire blog post to the makings of a wonderful vegan breakfast bagel. Breakfast is my favorite meal (tied with lunch and dinner).  I think it sets the tone for the rest of the day, for better or for worse.  I always make time for a sit down breakfast, even if I'm only seated for 5 minutes and sipping on a green smoothie.

This particular breakfast really brightened my day.  It was pretty to look at and even better to eat.  For a long time, I avoided bagels completely.  I thought they were dense little gut bombs.  And while that may be the case for some, I've come to enjoy bagels every now and then.  I think the fun part is coming up with the toppings.  Bagel decorating party, anyone?  :)

The ingredient of interest here is the cashew cheese.  Or perhaps it's more like a cashew dip or spread.  There are tons of recipe variations out there for cashew cheese.  Some get fancy with rejuvelac culturing.  Some include nutritional yeast.  Like most people, I'm drawn to the recipe with the least amount of ingredients and fewest number of steps. Sometimes, that combination leads to diminished flavor, but fortunately that's not the case here.  It's simple, yet versatile. And did I mention deeeeelicious? :)

Makes about 1 cup of cheese

1 cup of raw cashews (soaked in water for at least an hour-- this is optional, but it will make the cheese creamier)
1/4 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 cloves of garlic

Your favorite bagel (I used a pumpernickel bagel from the House of Bagels in SF)

Toppings:  Mini bell pepper slices, capers, fresh basil, black sesame seeds (as pictured) or whatever you want...sliced tomatoes, onions, dill, hemp seeds, etc.

  1. After soaking, drain and rinse the cashews.
  2. Blend the cashews, water, lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  3. You can spread the cheese on your toasted bagel immediately, or store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for a few hours.  (it firms up nicely this way)
  4. Add your toppings of choice and dig in.

The amounts listed here for the cashew cheese recipe are flexible. Try it out and then make it your own. I usually just eyeball it and make flavor adjustments as I go.  You can also add your favorite herbs, such as dill or chives.  Since I only wanted to make a small amount of cashew cheese, I used my Tribest personal blender for this.  If you've got a Vitamix, Blendtec, Magic Bullet, or other high-powered blender, soaking the cashews beforehand isn't necessary.  (Secret:  I didn't soak my cashews and my little Tribest blender still yielded a pretty smooth cheese)

I think the capers are a must for any bagel enthusiast.  A little goes a long way, but feel free to pile them on.  Sure, it would've been easy to bust out the Tofutti cream cheese, but you'll never go back to store-bought cream cheese after this. :)