Vegan lunches can -- and should -- be a lot more interesting than bare salads or carrot sticks and hummus. New Veganism columnist Gena Hamshaw will be sharing inspiration for midday meals that stave off both hunger and boredom.
Today: Whip up a batch of cashew cheese -- and then spread it on your pizza, pasta, and toast all season long.
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Typically, when I make a vegan tartine, I use a base of hummus or avocado: they’re easy, they’re tasty, and they’re versatile. But cashew cheese -- a magical ingredient in vegan cooking -- is also a delightful base, and it I think it evokes some of the authenticity of French tartines with herbed cheese and vegetables.
More: Meet Mexico's answer to the tartine -- tostadas.
Cashew cheese sounds scary, but if you can make hummus, then you can make cashew cheese, too. You just soak a cup of cashews for a few hours, then drain them and add them to a food processor along with a pinch of salt, a generous squeeze of lemon, and some nutritional yeast if you like. Pulse the everything to break down the cashews, and then, with the food processor running, drizzle in some water.
The texture you’re aiming for is a little softer than that of cream cheese, but a bit thicker than hummus; you’ll need to stop the processor a few times to scrape the bowl down as you go. Once you have a perfect texture, stop and pulse in any herbs you like (parsley and basil are great, but chives are my personal favorite).
I put cashew cheese in salads, on pizza, in pasta, and even on top of whole grains. But spread on top of two hearty slices of dark, crispy bread, and topped with fresh sprouts, cashew cheese turns this vegan lunch into spring on a plate.
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.