Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cashew Ricotta, No one will know!

Stock Your Pantry Episode Seven: Raw Cashews Take the Stage!

Raw cashews are used very frequently in vegan cooking to make things creamier, including sauces and baked goods.  Get a nice big bag of them and keep them right in the freezer to preserve them.  I keep my bag of raw cashews in the freezer and just use them right out of the freezer without thawing them in recipes.  It works just fine! 

This is one of those plant-based substitutes for a popular animal food that most will agree actually tastes better than the animal product version.  Awesome!  And it is so easy.  My version is based on the one in Veganomicon, actually I sort of combined the Tofu Ricotta and Cashew Ricotta recipes into one!  I put Vcon's original recipe for Cashew Ricotta instruction below.  Recipe variation noted with the *.

I go lighter on the cashews and oil (using the water from the undrained/unpressed tofu as a sub for the extra oil as Isa does in her Tofu Ricotta). 

Vegan Fazool Does Veganomicon, Tofu-Cashew Ricotta!

¼ cup raw cashews *                                                                            
2 cloves of garlic
1 pound extra firm tofu, crumbled (but NOT pressed or drained)*      
Juice from ½ a lemon
¼ cup fresh parsley or basil  *                           
1 tsp Kosher salt*                
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tsp. olive oil  *                                             

Process cashews and garlic together in a food processor until nuts are in a fine crumb.  Crumble tofu into processor and add the rest of the ingredients.  Process until smooth.  It will look exactly like the real thing.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.  Scoop out into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. You can make this ahead and I’m sure it lasts a while in the fridge. I make it the day before or the morning of to save time.  Done!

Here are the ingredients for the original Veganomicon Cashew Ricotta, which I made tonight:

    I used Kosher salt, not regular iodized as pictured. 

*original calls for 1/2 cup cashews, draining the tofu, 1 1/2 tsp dried basil instead of fresh parsley, 1 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Veganomicon's instructions for the original Cashew Ricotta: Process cashews, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic until a thick, creamy paste forms.  Add the crumbled tofu and process until it is thick and well blended.  Blend in basil and salt.  VCon's is thicker, richer and a bit saltier than the hybrid version I make, but also amazing and works very well when you want a richer taste or are using it for a special occasion. 

Either way, it will look something like this:

You can use the ricotta in your baked ziti, your stuffed shells, on top of your vegan pizza, etc. etc.  I can also post my recipe for baked ziti using my version of the ricotta, with quick spinach marinara sauce, it is to DIE for!

Anyway, I also use this just on top of vegan take-out pizza.  Order a tomato pie with whatever, and just stick scoops of this on top, OMG.

Hope you guys enjoy this one.  It is SO easy and fast.  Try it right now!  If you don't have a food processor, then just make my hybrid version of it and leave out the cashews (which would be really close to Isa's tofu ricotta).  Blend up the tofu by hand and "squish" it with your fingers to get the right consistency (this is actually how Isa does her tofu ricotta, she doesn't use the food processor).



  1. Ah a Tofu Xpress! Do you find it works better for you? I'm still using plates and dishtowels, myself.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and happy veganversary. I had my own 1-year this month :)

    Love your blog!
    Jes @

  2. Jes, TofuXpress: Best. Thing. Ever. :-). Soooo worth the money. I use it like 4x a week! So fast and so effective. Tofu soaks up marinade, etc. SO easily when pressed with it. Buy one for your Veganversary!! Thanks for your support!
    Best, Dawn

  3. Just wanted to thank you for this recipe!! I can't remember if I posted a comment before. I added some nooooochy goodness.

  4. Hey crashtestveg, cool, thanks for the props and I dig ur blog. Yeah, you know, it's funny because I usually put nooch in my tomato sauce, so it probably evens out in terms of flavors :-) I've been using the full teaspoon of salt as well in my ricotta, and I find I like it better with more salt (at least recently, our tastes change all the time!). Nooch would add that extra salty bite as well. Great idea!

  5. Hello, I'm happy I stumbled upon your blog. I'll be following from now on!

    I'm hoping you can help me. I've been wanting to make the cashew ricotta & I've decided tomorrow's the day. I have cashews, but they're roasted & salted. Will my ricotta suck if I don't use raw cashews? Thanks!

  6. Hi Anonymous! I don't think it's a good idea to use roasted cashews. You want the creaminess that raw cashews offer, some folks even soak their cashews first to make them really creamy when food processed. Go out and buy some raw cashews. Keep them in the freezer and they last a long time. You will probably want to make this again (trust me!). Let me know how you make out, and thanks for visiting!

  7. Dawn, first, thanks so much for your response. Since I had the roasted/salted cashews on hand & I didn't want to go to the store, I decided to err on the side of rebellion and go with it! I soaked the cashews for 18 hours, though, to help my cause. My cashew ricotta is currently resting in the processor waiting for my veggies & lasagna noodles to cook. I did sneak a taste and boy is it ever good! I hope hubby's taste buds are fooled, but that's unlikely as he came into the kitchen while the whole cashews were hanging out in the processor. He was like, "Cashews? Is that for the lasagna?" Foiled! Still, I told him to keep an open mind and not act like he hates the lasagna just because he knows it has "fake" ricotta. Even if he doesn't like it, I'm sure my two-year-old will and, with him on my side, I can't lose!! Maybe I'll post an update after dinner. Again, thanks for your response.

  8. Ali, yeah, soaking the roasted ones should work OK, good thinking on your part! Not something I ever had to do because I always have raw on hand. I buy bags of them at Trader Joe's and keep them in the freezer! As far as the roasted ones, my family always eats them fast so I would never have enough to use for the recipe haha. I'm sure it will be great. Post back to let me know if soaking the roasted cashews is an acceptable technique so others whose roasted cashews have not yet been eaten can part take in ricotta making :)

  9. Mmm, the lasagna was delicious. Hubby and baby both ate it up! I snacked on the ricotta as the rest of the ingredients cooked and learned it's delicious on whole wheat sesame crackers. I will definitely make this again. In short, I think roasted, salted cashews worked fine. Soaking likely helped. I'm excited to try the ricotta in other recipes as well. Thanks!

  10. Great to hear it! It's nice to know that soaking the roasted cashews is a viable alternative to using raw cashews. I bet it added some flavor as well! Stick around, I have other recipes coming...try my baked french toast, hubbies and kiddos love that, too! Thanks for all your feedback, very glad to have you aboard.