Vegan ‘Ricotta’ Filling
I have to admit, I did not come up with this one on my own. I knew that cauliflower and cashews are both good creamy basis for vegan sauces/cheeses, but it wasn’t until after countless hours of scouring the web, reading SO MANY amazing blog posts, and flipping through my plethora of vegan cookbooks at home that I finally decided on my official recipe.
The first time I made it, my live-in taste tester and I both agreed it was good, but not quite right. So I made it again. This time cooking the cauliflower and cashew mixture a bit longer over low heat after emulsifying it to dry it out a bit more and upping the salt and nutritional yeast content. This time it was spot on!
It’s not often that a vegan cheese substitute works like this guy does! I have to say, I am pretty impressed with how flawlessly this has worked every time. The cauliflower mixture is also absolutely delicious straight out of the pot, I could absolutely eat a whole bowl of it and not feel one bit guilty!
Make sure that you toss the cashews in the water right away to give them the maximum boil time, and when you are emulsifying only go till it’s about the texture of sand. You want it a little grainy to really mimic that ricotta texture!
Also, keep in mind that this is a ricotta FILLING substitute! I have tested it in lasagna, manicotti, and most recently raviolis (with spinach – yum!). It’s not a straight up ricotta cheese sub. Other than classic Italian dishes that call for a standard egg/ricotta/spices mix, I can’t guarantee that this will work, it is cauliflower and cashews after-all! That being said, in the dishes that I have tested it in, it’s absolutely divine!
- 8 oz whole raw cashews
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
- 4 or 5 leaves fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic minced fine
Put a pot of water on to boil with enough water to fully submerge your cauliflower. Put the cashews in the water right away.
While you're waiting for the water to boil, cut the cauliflower into rough chunks. No need for them to be perfect.
Once the water comes to a boil toss the cauliflower in and bring back to a medium boil for 20 - 25mn or until the cauliflower is falling apart.
Turn the heat down to low and pour off almost all the water, leaving about a 1/2 a cup. Throw in the minced garlic. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender - just be careful!) fully blend the cashews and ricotta until about the texture of course sand.
Stir in the spices and nutritional yeast and adjust as necessary
Stir in fresh, chopped basil.