Guess what? This is raw! This is vegan! And this is delicious! Sounds crazy, but it’s true. I should start out by saying that this is inspired entirely by this recipe, but there were a few things I wanted to do to make it my own. (If there are some kind of blogosphere rules about reworking someone else’s creations and linking back to them for reference that I have messed up, someone please tell me.) So, this is a cashew based goat cheese, and I really wanted to add some depth to it by adding a lot of dill to the cheese. It has a pesto middle layer and a ‘roasted’ red pepper bottom layer. The original recipe had a sun dried tomato layer at the bottom instead (but I can’t do sun-dried tomatoes anymore, after a food poisoning experience in France) plus I really wanted to try out my new secret ingredient: The best way to achieve that smoky, roasty flavor in this raw dish, was to use fermented black garlic. Don’t be afraid! It is awesome and delicious. I have found it at a couple common grocery stores, like Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s, or I bet you could order it online. I am not sure how it is achieved, but it comes still fully intact in its bulb, it is pure black, and has a sticky, tar -like texture, with a rich sweet flavor. If you aren’t crazy about everything being raw, go ahead and just use regular garlic, and actually roast your red peppers. This came out better than I was expecting, and I bet it would be even better if you have a really powerful blender like a VitaMix, which I didn’t. If you decide to serve this to people who are used to real goat cheese, I would’t preface it by calling it ‘faux goat cheese’ or ‘raw nut cheese’, the implications will weird them out, just call it creamy pesto dip and let the flavor explain the rest.
Raw Goat Cheese Pesto Spread
Serves 4 as an appetizer
3/4 cup raw cashews,
soaked for 6 hours in purified water, drained
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tb coconut oil
1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tsp of salt a bunch of dill! (like 4-5 sprigs)
1/3 cup water
1 cup basil leaves
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup pine nuts (I actually just used additional cashews here, because the store was out of pine nuts, and it was still good! Walnuts would work well too.)
1/3 cup cold pressed olive oil
1 tsp salt
red pepper layer:
2/3 red bell pepper
3 cloves fermented black garlic
1/4 cup cold pressed olive oil
a few pinches red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
optional: Cheese cloth
Line a small ramekin with plastic wrap. (Thank you, fork and beans for this tip!) You can use any small type of bowl.
Throw all the the ‘cheese’ ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until very smooth. I added the water last, a little at a time, to make sure it didn’t get to wet, you want the consistency of hummus, not batter. Scrape down the sides as you go.
Optional step: Line a small bowl with cheese cloth (I folded mine so it was a couple layers thick) and pour in your cheese, gather all the edges of the cloth up and twist to form a little bundle, hold it over the sink and keep twisting while all the liquid drips out. (this step helps the consistency in my opinion, but because the coconut oil will harden in the fridge, it will be fine to skip)
Now press/pour the cheese into your lined ramekin.
Clean out your processor and add all the pesto ingredients, and blend until smooth. Again, just like with the water in the cheese layer, drizzle the oil in slowly as it blends so it doesn’t get too liquidy. Scoop that on top of the cheese layer.
Clean out your processor again and repeat with the red pepper layer. The raw red pepper and lack of nuts makes this layer pretty watery, so I poured off the liquid after blending, or you can pour it through a fine sieve. Add this on top of the pesto layer.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours. I let mine go over night. When you are ready to serve, unwrap the top of the plastic wrap, and give the edges of the plastic wrap a little tug to loosen the lump of dip from the bowl. Then invert the bowl onto a plate and peel away the plastic.
I found that this cheese really needed some acidity, so I recommend drizzling some balsamic vinegar, or having some nearby to drizzle on bread before smearing it with the dip. This was great with the bagel chips I had on hand, and also made a really great sandwich spread! It even slices relatively well when it’s nice and cold. So decadent!