This is a difficult one – and the reason many vegans give up or weaken – they are addicted to cheese. I know – ‘cos I’ve been there in the past -you go to France and are seduced back to the dark side. Well, ok, vegan cheeses aren’t exactly like the dairy ones, but they are now so good, you definitely aren’t missing out. Well, you are missing out – on all the negatives of dairy cheese and the dairy industry – and that’s something worth missing out on in my view.
So, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks with regards to vegan cheese. Not all vegan cheeses were created equal, and some work better in some circumstances than others. Here’s a list of great uses for vegan cheeses – not everyone is going to agree with me, but these are a great starting point, and any additions, suggestions are always received with interest.
The ultimate VEGAN CHEESE crib sheet!!!!!
Here’s my crib sheet for newbie (and oldie) vegans who really love cheese yet who have finally managed to give it up – but still hanker after the taste…… I’ve tried most of the vegan cheeses on the market, and some of them suck, but some of them are really good. The trick is to know what ones to use where, and what to have them with!
For cheese on toast, I reckon Sainsbury’s “free from” cheese slices are best, but you have to grate a modest amount of Cheezely “Mozarella style” on top to get it to melt really well. I generally put a bit of Natex (like marmite but with less salt on first) then the cheeses. So, grill one side of the bread first, add Natex, then load up with the “cheese” slices & Cheezely. On top of the grated Cheezely, sprinkle some oregano or Italian seasoning (from Harvest), plus some paprika or smoked paprika, and some ancho or chipotle chilli flakes. Grilling this for around 5 minutes is just about right. Eaten with tomato ketchup, brown sauce or mustard you would never know it wasn’t cheese – tastes really yummy!
For veggie burgers in a bun, use the same “free from” cheese slices. Cook the burger first – I reckon the Sainsbury’s ones are best for kids – 8 to a pack for only £1.75 – electric griddling them is best (Cuisinart is the tops) – keeps them nice and juicy. Once cooked a slice of cheese on top, and 20 to 30 secs max in microwave per burger melts the “cheese” perfectly. Served with griddle fried onions and/or avocado, and Plamil vegan “garlic mayo” (Holland and Barratt sell it) or (Follow Your Heart vegan garlic or chilli mayo) – they can’t be beaten. Also I really rate the “no-bull” burgers from Iceland – much bigger than the Sainsbury’s ones, they are more suited to adults – same deal with the cheese and other bits. M&S sell the best giant wholemeal baps to go with these supersized “no-bull” burgers.
Cheese sauce – make a roux with wholemeal flour and soya or oat milk, grate in Sheese “smoked cheddar” or Red Leicester and Cheezely “no soya” cheese, and add in various amounts of balsamic vinegar, onion stock cubes, veg bouillon, Natex (like marmite but low salt) – I’ve posted the full recipe in the sauces section.
Sliced (and unmelted) on toast, the “Follow your heart” slices – “pepper jack”, or “Gouda” style are great – the FYH cheddar ones are awful – (horrid smell and not a great taste which is surprising as the others are so good). These slices work well like this. Toast some bread, “butter” it, add a bit of Natex, a thin layer of vegan mayo, (sticks the cheese to the toast and stops it sliding off) – then add the cheese slices – then add some more mayo, and either baby plum tomatoes cut in half, or thinly sliced avocado or black or green olives. Then for the tomatoes/olive version grind a generous amount of black pepper on top, for the sliced avocado version, spread a little more mayo, then sprinkle some smoked paprika and black pepper on last. Awesome!
On crumpets (and on toast) Daiya “cheddar block” – Sainsbury’s sell it – works well – but don’t try melting it unless you put some grated Cheezely Mozarella on top. Also, Tesco’s “blue cheese” is superb on toast or crumpets. Both work well with Branston pickle or chilli jam or any of those “artisan” pickle spreads – red onion, “farmhouse” etc.
Also, Koko alternative to “cheddar” cheese available in Waitrose is good. It has a slight coconutty flavour, but with tamarind and habanero pickle it’s amazing, also with chilli jam very good, and other pickles like Branston etc.
Other combinations that work well with most of these cheeses is apricot jam – the slightly sharp taste goes well with the “cheesy” flavour. Koko “cheddar substitute”, follow your heart “gouda”, Daiya “Cheddar block” all work well – even the sainsbury’s “cheddar” slices work with this.
I’ve tried the Applewood Cheddar, and that works well as a dessert cheese with toast or crumpets, but personally (although others rave about it) I don’t find it very nice melted.
For pizza, things that work well are any of the hard non-melty cheeses – Cheezely soya free, Smoked, red Leicester or cheddar style Sheeze blocks etc – grated onto the pizza base – after you’ve put the tomato sauce on. Then add a thin layer of the melty mozzarella Cheezely on last. Then add your usual other toppings – peppers, olives, thin slices of Linda McCartney sausages, plus Italian seasoning, smoked paprika and chipotle/ancho chilli flakes.
In Sandwiches I think the Scheeze german smoked cheese is good, as is Daya Cheddar, follow your hear, Applewood, Scheese Blue Cheese, and Tesco Blue Cheese.
For melting the Scheese Mozarella isn’t bad, but doesn’t melt as well as the cheesely – it’s tends to burn if not on something quite moist.
On Pizza – another cheese that can work well on pizza is the Mozzarisella brand (Harvest sell it) – sliced and placed on pizza it’s a very convincing replacement for mozzarella cheese.
Lastly, for pasta – wholemeal pasta, with any tomato or mushroom based sauce – loads of black pepper and Violife prosociano (parmesan style really) – grated finely on top, no-one will know the difference!