Friday, May 30, 2014

Vegan Cheddar Cheese Ball

Sometimes it is true that you don't know what you've got until it's gone, and sometimes you don't know what you had lost until you have it back again. My family likes to serve a certain cheese ball whenever there is half an excuse -- holidays,  parties, homecomings. Along with the cupcakes I made previously, the cheese ball was a staple in our Maine farmhouse. Unlike the cupcakes, however, I got kind of tired of it. It was the same cheese ball all the time. Then I went vegan and for a long time went without the creamy, nutty, tangy combination of flavors peculiar to this dish. Tasting my own veganized version, I was immediately transported to countless days with my family. I was also reminded that this ball is delicious.

Maybe I'll sneak this version into the next family holiday and maybe I'll even tell them it's vegan.

The original recipe certainly comes from an era of convenience foods. It calls for cream cheese, cheddar cheese, blue cheese and a few other ingredients you will find here. To mimic the convenience of the recipe, I used store-bought vegan cream cheese and cheddar cheese. I could not find vegan blue cheese at the store, but wow, does this recipe do the trick! As you can see, I skipped the last part of the recipe since the flavors were really all I needed. In the end, the preparation of this dish remains very simple, with the help of a food processor. You just need patience to let the ball chill for several hours.

Vegan Family Cheese Ball
Blue cheese adapted from Vegalicious

1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cashews
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white miso
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp ground mustard
pinch nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp fresh chopped chives
1 cup (8 oz) vegan cream cheese
1 cup (8 oz) vegan shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp (1 clove) minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup chopped nuts or peanuts of your choice -- I used peanuts.
Crackers for serving, like these from Oh She Glows.

1. In a food processor, chop the quinoa until it becomes an even paste.
2. Add the cashews and pulse a few times.
3. Add the tahini, lemon juice and miso and blend.
4. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, mustard, nutmeg, parsley and chives. Blend to combine. If you taste it now, you should be transported back to your pre-vegan days of eating blue cheese.
5. Back to the grind (get it? Sorry, I couldn't help myself). Add the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, minced garlic and red wine vinegar. Blend everything until smooth.
6. Transfer the mixture to another vessel, cover and chill it in the refrigerator for at least five hours.
7. Once the cheese mixture is chilled and more solid, form it into a ball and then roll it several times in the chopped nuts to cover the entire surface.
8. If not being eaten right away, prepare your cheese ball for storage: Find a plastic container that the ball would fit into without touching the sides. Place the ball on the cover of the container and fit the rest of the container over the ball, like a serving platter cover. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
9. Serve with crackers of your choice.

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