Here is a recipe for almond feta cheese that makes it easy to get the great flavor of feta without the dairy.
Now, I am not opposed to dairy, per se, but my son has a life-threatening allergy to cow's milk, so it is not an option for him. This is one of his favorite things that I make with our raw almonds and boy, was he thrilled when I made it again today!
This recipe is a slight modification from one found on Ricki Heller, a sugar-free and gluten-free blog. I admit that I am quite envious at times of the great detail that she can go into in sculpting beautiful desserts. That went out the window for me once about a year ago when I had to rethink my limitations. Well, in truth I do that daily, right?
Anyhow, I still get goat and sheep feta for myself at Costco sometimes as I seem to be tolerating it well, though they do not always have it. For my son, this version will have to do. And it's quite good whether baked or not. In fact, until today, we never baked it. We just ate it as is. Again–limitations! And when it gets gobbled up without going through all the extra effort, then I typically don't go to the extra effort!
Here is a photo of the finished product (nicely shaped and baked this time :-):
Now quickly, before you go on to the recipe, I need to explain my main alternation to the recipe. First of all, clearly the color of my “cheese” is more pink than white. That is because the original recipe called for blanched almonds. Now, I could certainly have done that to enhance the color of the finished product, to make it look more like feta, but in order to blanch almonds, you need to boil them, which causes them not to be raw anymore. And yes, I know that almost all almonds in the U.S. are not raw, but I coordinate a large purchase of raw almonds in the early winter months every year so mine (and other lucky almond buyers') are truly raw. Even if your almonds are labeled “raw”, they almost certainly are not. (By the way, if you live in West Michigan, you are welcome to join us this year and there may be some left this year yet if you are quick!)
In any case, to keep the enzymes intact in my soaked and dried almonds, boiling them is not a great option, and since the recipe tastes great without blanching, I am all for saving the time and effort. I am sure that there is a slight variation in the taste, but I think the nutrition boost and time savings counteract any loss there.
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So–here is the recipe:
2 cups whole almonds
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 1/2 tsp fine salt (I recommend Real Salt.)
Up to 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
dried or fresh parsley, or other herb to taste
1. Soak almonds overnight or up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse.
2. In a high-powered blender (like the vitamix), blend the almonds, lemon juice, 6 Tbsp of olive oil, garlic, and salt until very smooth. Alternatively, you can use a food processor, processing as long as is necessary.
3. Preheat oven to 200F. Line baking pan with parchment paper. Spoon the cheese onto the parchment and shape into a disk approximately 3/4-inch thick.
4. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the top is stiff and dry. Cool and chill if you would like to serve it cold, or for a warm cheese dish, immediately top with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with herbs.
This would be great spread on Focaccia Flax Bread, plain or served as a sandwich with grated carrots on it or served with fresh vegetables. Yum!