Have you ever imagined a world without cheese? Asiago, White Cheddar, Cooper, American, Feta, Monterey Jack– the list goes on and on. These blocks of dairy bliss complement thousands of foods each and every day.
Whether you’re vegan, allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant (yes, there is a difference), you should not miss out on delicious dishes just because cheese is a main ingredient.
What are some cheese replacements, you ask? Don’t worry, Valley has the answers.
Jean Hayes, a registered nurse, vegan food guru and member of The Scranton Beets, a plant-based diet advocacy group, says tofu can act as a replacement for cheese in a variety of dishes. This soy-based substitute is great for a non-dairy, plant-based lasagna dish.
“Tofu serves the role of ricotta, or in this case ri(not)ta, cheese in lasagna and provides a sufficient amount of protein,” says Hayes. She also mentions that crumbled tofu paired with cannellini beans and Italian seasonings, such as fresh basil and oregano, helps give the lasagna a creamier texture than ricotta cheese. The full recipe for Engine 2 Diet Vegan Lasagna can be found here.
Speaking of creamy texture, let’s talk about chickpeas. Chickpea purée is a great cheese substitute and it’s allergy-friendly. All you need is 1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas, ¼ cup of cream skimmed from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk, 2-4 tablespoons of water and ½ teaspoon of salt.
Add water one tablespoon at a time until it reaches a smooth, dough-like consistency. Once puréed, allow the “cheese” to ferment at room temperature on the counter top in a glass bowl. Whether it is used as a cheese spread or for cheese slices, chickpea cheese is sure to get the job done.
Having a party? Your appetizers will be the talk of the town after you learn about this new way to garnish your mozzarella fritters and side salads. It’s called cashew cheese, and you’re going to want to write this down in the old recipe book.
Cashew cheese is nutritional yeast with crushed cashews. If desired, you can also add salt, pepper, garlic powder and lemon juice for a more sensational taste. This substitute is most commonly used in place of Parmesan or Romano cheese. It is great for garnishing side dishes and appetizers, but you can also use it to top off your chili or spaghetti.
First, place cashews, nutritional yeast and seasonings in a food processor. Pulse repeatedly to break down the cashews. Once they are crushed, turn the processor on and add ¼ cup of water. More water creates a hummus-like consistency whereas less water results in a more crumbly cheese.
Whether it be your curiosity or certain health circumstances that lead you to try these new recipes, allow yourself to be fully committed to trying new food options. After all of this no-cheese talk, you may be saying “you’ve gouda brie kidding me,” but you will be sure to broaden your palate and inner food horizons during this experimental process. Now go out and make Martha Stewart proud!