That’s why this week, I’m sharing some of my favorite go-to’s for when I’m craving those familiar cheesy comfort foods of my childhood, proving that YES, YOU CAN RECOVER FROM YOUR CHEESE ADDICTION! (This, coming from a woman who used to be part of a cheese club in culinary school, worked at a small-scale fromagerie making artisanal cheeses as well as a gourmet cheese shop, and acted as dairy-buyer for a local co-op! Dairy Addicts: I feel you!!!)
The following recipes are 100% plant-based, healthful, and easy to prepare. I’ve also included my favorite grocery store finds, for those nights when “real” cooking is just not in the cards.
Here are two ricotta “cheese” recipes that we use at The Wildflower Chef in place of ricotta in stuffed shells, lasagna, and baked ziti. They’re also tasty spread right onto a freshly toasted baguette or dolloped on top of a homemade pizza.
Tofu-Ricotta Cheese (Nut-Free)
(makes enough for 1 8-serving lasagna)
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- Salt, to taste
Cashew Ricotta Cheese (Soy-Free)
- 2 cups cashews, soaked in filtered water for 6-8 hours
- To taste: Olive oil, Nutritional yeast, Fresh lemon juice, Salt, Garlic powder
Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
Minimalist Baker Recipe - they’ve got a great thing going here, so I don’t mess with this recipe!
- 1 head roasted garlic (see instructions for method)
- 10-12 ounces penne (gluten-free works well!)
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 1/2 Tbsp arrowroot
- 2 cups unsweetened plain almond or cashew milk, plus more as needed
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 5 Tbsp nutritional yeast, plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup vegan parmesan cheese* (optional, store-bought varieties usually contain soy - see below for a homemade version that is soy-free)
- To roast garlic, preheat oven to 400F and cut off the very top of a head of garlic. Drizzle the top with a bit of oil, a sprinkle of salt and loosely wrap in foil.
- Place directly on oven rack and roast for 45 minutes - 1 hour, depending on size of garlic. You'll know it's done when the garlic is very fragrant and the bulb is golden brown. Remove from oven, slightly unwrap, and let cool.
- At the 40-minute mark, bring roughly 10 cups water to a boil in a large pot and salt generously. Once boiling, add pasta and stir to prevent noodles from sticking. Cook according to package instructions. Once fully cooked, drain and set aside.
- In the meantime, begin preparing sauce. Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and minced fresh garlic. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until light golden brown. Immediately add arrowroot starch and whisk - cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly add almond milk while whisking, then cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. The sauce will likely look a little clumpy - that’s ok!
- Transfer mixture to a blender, along with the roasted garlic. To extract garlic, simply push up from the base and the softened cloves should come right out.
- Next add salt and pepper, nutritional yeast, and vegan parmesan cheese (optional) and blend on high until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed - you want it pretty well salted + cheesy, so don't be shy with the nutritional yeast, salt, and vegan parmesan cheese.
- Return sauce back to skillet from earlier and cook over low heat until warmed and slightly thickened - about 2-3 minutes - whisking occasionally. As it warms back up, it will thicken and get super cheesy. For a thicker sauce, leave it as is. To thin slightly, add almond milk 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Turn off heat if it starts bubbling too aggressively.
- Add cooked, drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.
- Serve immediately. Top with additional nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan, if desired.
*Homemade, Soy-Free Vegan Parmesan Recipe
- 3/4 cup (90 g) raw cashews
- 3 Tbsp (9 g) nutritional yeast
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
Favorite Vegan “Cheese” Brands: I find all of these at Wegmans and Kimberton Whole Foods.
Heidi-Ho Veganics: Made from a blend of vegetables, cashews, and chia seeds, this spreadable “chia cheeze” product comes in a 10 oz tub. Mix it into hot pasta for the absolute easiest mac-and-cheese you’ll ever make - all three flavors are delicious!
Daiya: Their provolone and cheddar slices melt perfectly on top of veggie burgers - you won’t miss the dairy! Their shredded mozzarella, used lightly, makes a convincing stand-in for mozzarella on homemade pizzas.
Bob’s Red Mill: Nutritional Yeast, fortified with B12 and other essential nutrients. This versatile product lends a cheesy and buttery flavor to everything from pasta, to soup, to dressings.
Go Veggie: Their vegan parmesan is an easy go-to to lend a salty bite to your favorite foods.