A cheese that isn’t, this walnut cheese is dairy-free but has a distinctly salty, tangy cheese flavor.
- 1 cup (about 5 ounces) California walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white (aka yellow or mellow) miso
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Walnut oil, for garnish (optional)
- Raw vegetables and crackers, for serving
*Note: Nutritional yeast is the key because it gives the mixture its distinct cheese-like flavor. It can be found at health food or grocery stores where vegetarian products are sold. White miso (aka mild or yellow miso) can be found in the International section of most grocery stores.
- Place walnuts in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by 3 to 4 inches. Set aside at room temperature to soak for at least 12 hours.
- Drain soaking liquid then rinse walnuts under cold water. Place walnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade and process until they become paste-like. Add the oil, 2 tablespoons of water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and miso and puree until smooth and creamy, at least 5 minutes. Stop the processor periodically to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl. (Add an additional 1 or 2 tablespoons of water as needed to help the mixture blend.) Taste and season with salt, as desired.
- At this point, you have a few options: you can serve this as a spread or you can let it sit aside to age for a cheese that becomes firmer, similar to a log of goat cheese.
- To use as a spread: Place it in the fridge until chilled slightly, about 20 minutes. Serve topped with finely chopped herbs and a drizzle of walnut oil along with raw vegetables and crackers.
- To make into an aged cheese log: Skip chilling the spread and instead form it into a log. To do so, place a piece of doubled cheesecloth (roughly 18 inches long and 12 inches wide) on a cutting board and transfer walnut puree into cheesecloth. Using clean, damp hands, shape mixture into a roughly 6-inch-long log. Fold the cheesecloth over the log to enclose and roll into a cylinder. Then twist the ends of cloth (it should look like an old-fashioned wrapped candy) and tuck under the ends of the log.
- Place the wrapped log in a fine mesh sieve. Place the sieve in a bowl and let walnuts age 12 hours at room temperature (it should let off some liquid and slightly dehydrate). Either bake (directions below) or serve. To serve, place it in the fridge until chilled slightly, about 20 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle the parsley on a piece of parchment paper about the length of the log and twice the width. Roll the walnut cheese log over the parsley to coat the cheese. Gently pat any remaining parsley onto the sides and any spots where the cheese shows through. Serve with raw vegetables and crackers.
- To make into an aged and bake cheese log: Heat oven to 200°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Place aged cheese (still wrapped in cheesecloth) on prepared baking sheet and bake until cheese becomes set on outside, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature or place in fridge to chill, up to 1 day.
- Unwrap cheese and discard cheesecloth. Just before serving, sprinkle the parsley on a piece of parchment paper about the length of the log and twice the width. Roll the walnut cheese log over the parsley to coat the cheese. Gently pat any remaining parsley onto the sides and any spots where the cheese shows through. Serve with raw vegetables and crackers.