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This vegan queso cotija is crumbly, salty, and tangy. There’s absolutely no dairy in it and it’s delicious. It is perfect for topping sopes, chilaquiles, enchiladas, gorditas, salads, and pastas.
If you are new to veganism I just want to let you know that I get it, I miss cheese too. I loved cheese, all kinds of cheese! This is why I detest processed vegan cheese, because it just doesn’t taste like the original. (I haven’t had the privilege of tasting Miyokos vegan cheese, they say it’s a game changer though.) There are exceptions to this, like this vegan cotija cheese which is made from almonds. It of course is not like the original, but let’s just say it evokes the sensation and taste of cotija cheese.
Cotija is actually a small town in the mountains of the state of Michoacan. The cheese is said to have originated more than 400 years ago. It was made by the local people to keep milk from spoiling by turning it into aged cheese. The cheese is aged for about 3 months and is available in large rounds. I visited Cotija, many years ago, and I remember being blown away by the sight of the huge cheese rounds in the local shops and restaurants.
You must be wondering why I’m talking about the actual cheese making. Well, this blog is all about making traditional Mexican food vegan, but also about preserving our Mexican food traditions and food culture as much as possible. So, it’s important to look into the history a little bit. Plus, I’m a total food nerd.
The Recipe: Vegan Queso Cotija
- Use slivered almonds, do not soak them.
- You can also use lime juice instead of lemon juice.
Vegan Queso Cotija
- 1 cup Slivered almonds
- 2 tsp. Lemon juice
- 2 tsp. Brine from a jar of manzanilla olives
- Salt to taste
- Place the almonds. Lemon juice, brine, and salt in a food processor.
- Process until you get a crumbly mixture resembling cheese, about 4-5 minutes. Be careful not over process or you’ll end up with almond butter.
- Place mixture in a cheese cloth or nut bag and twist tight to close and squeeze all of the excess liquid out.
- Place in the refrigerator for 24 hrs.
- Remove cheese from cloth and crumble.