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In the Kitchen: Ricotta Nut "Cheese"

It may sound strange, but you can make cheese out of nuts...OK...a faux cheese, but I swear it taste just like cheese! You can use it for dips, as a spread on bread or a sandwich, and in salads...It's also a great substitute for ricotta in lasagna!...And, you can even add herbs and spices to create specialty cheeses like spicy jalapeno nut cheese and pimento nut cheese. Basically, nut cheeses rock! Today's {EAT} is by Health, Happy, Life: Vegan Chive Ricotta Cashew Nut "Cheese."

Vegan Chive Ricotta Cashew Nut "Cheese" makes 2 1/2 cups

2 cups of soaked raw cashews/pinch of salt, drained 2 tsp garlic powder or 3 fresh garlic cloves 1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer (for richer flavor) 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar OR lemon juice *you can also use red wine or balsamic vinegar 1 Tbsp dried Italian herb blend 1 Tbsp agave or maple syrup (or honey) 1/3 cup fresh chives 1 tsp black pepper salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp minimum) garnish: handful of fresh chopped chives optional: 1 Tbsp Vegenaise

note on salt: If you are adding this ricotta to a recipe with salty ingredients (like a tomato-sauced lasagna) go easy on the salt. The ricotta should add a texture/taste component to the dish and not a salty one. However, if you are using the ricotta raw on salads, as a dip or dessert - you may want to increase the salt and even sweetener content a tad to suit your tastes.

Directions:

1. Add raw cashews to a bowl of water, add a pinch of salt. Soak in fridge overnight or at least for about 2-4 hours. More soaking, smoother texture.

2. Drain soaked cashews. Add them to a food processor.

3. Add in the vinegar or lemon juice, soy milk or creamer, agave and olive oil.

4. Blend on high until smooth. This may take a few minutes depending on the strength of your food processor. If your ricotta is looking too dry, add more soy milk and/or more olive oil. I used soy creamer which made my ricotta nice and creamy.

5. Add in the chives, pepper, garlic and salt. Pulse until blended in. Add in the optional vegenaise here.

6. Transfer your ricotta to a serving bowl and sprinkle with fresh chopped chives and black pepper.