What can I say about vegan cheese? I don’t like it. I’m sorry, but I just don’t. Maybe it’s because I was a passionate cheese lover before going vegan. Oh did I love cheese! The stinkier the better. The vegan versions of cheese just don’t live up to my expectations, so I prefer to do without it. However, I decided to give it a try once more with this macadamia nut queso fresco, because you can’t drink a good glass of wine without cheese.
The Recipe: Macadamia Nut Queso Fresco
This cheese is perfect for a fruit and jam cheese plate, but also topped with a chipotle-pineapple salsa and some chips. The texture is light and easily spreadable. It has a touch of sweetness, but is savory in all the right ways.
The best part of it is that it is so easy to make. First you soak the macadamia nuts in water overnight. The following day you grind them in the food processor with garlic, oil, salt, and a bit of lime juice. This makes a sort of paste with the consistency of ricotta cheese. You wrap this paste in cheese cloth, squeeze out the excess liquid and leave in the fridge overnight. That’s it, your cheese is ready to eat.
For the queso fresco: soak the macadamias in water at room temperature overnight. The following day, drain the nuts and place in a food processor with the garlic, lime juice, oil, water, and salt.
Process 1-2 minutes or until the nuts turn into a paste that resembles ricotta cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Wet a large piece of cheesecloth, approximately 12” X 12”. Place the paste in the center and a form it into a ball by gathering the edges of the cheesecloth around the cheese.
Twist the top edges of the cheesecloth to tighten, give shape, and get rid of excess water in the cheese. Place the cheese bundle on a plate and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day unwrap your cheese and serve.
To make the salsa: boil water in a small saucepot. Drop tomato in and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the tomato begins to soften.
While the tomato is simmering, set a large sauté pan to medium-high heat. Place the onion and garlic in the pan and let the high heat char them for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, peel the garlic, and place them both in the blender.
Remove the tomato from the water and add to the blender. Add the chipotle, cilantro, and pineapple to the blender and process until you reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
If you cannot easily find raw macadamia nuts, you can substitute with blanched almonds.