Herbed Almond Cheese with Roasted Golden Beets

Soft, plant-based cheeses are surprisingly simple to make. This recipe is considered the "base" of most vegan cheeses, which is typically prepared with almonds or cashews. It pairs beautifully with simple thyme and rosemary roasted golden beets.

Ingredients (Almond cheese):

1 cup almonds, soaked in water for at least one hour

2 to 3 tablespoons algae or grapeseed oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

3 to 4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon thyme

1/2 tablespoon rosemary

salt and pepper, to taste

sliced almonds and herbs, to coat

Ingredients (Roasted Beet Salad):

1 bunch (or three large bulbs) golden beets, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons algae oil or olive oil, for roasting

1 tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

spring mixed greens

sliced shallot, for garnish

Dressing:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 shallot, minced

1/2 lemon, juiced

salt and pepper, to taste

Place 1 cup of almonds into a small bowl or mason jar and fill with water. Let stand for about 1-2 hours. You can let them sit for less, but you will have a sharper and grainier result. Under time duress, I've considered a shorter soak  sufficient, but to follow proper method, it's best to let them do their job and soften up. Set aside.

Dressing the spring greens involves a quick blend of balsamic, dijon, lemon juice and minced shallot. If you prefer oil in your dressing, absolutely feel free to add some grapeseed oil to smooth out the flavors. Shake or blend, and then set aside until assembly. 

Preheat oven to 465 degrees (Don't know why, just my go-to). Line a baking dish with parchment or tin foil and introduce your cubed golden beets. Drizzle with oil and season with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cover and roast for 30 minutes. Check after 30 minutes and give the contents a gentle stir. If the beets need a bit more time to brown and caramelize, allow them to roast for another 5 to 10 minutes. This method is not nearly as lengthy as roasting the entire bulb...who has time for that. Plus, it allows for the individual cubes brown up more successfully. Remove from oven and set aside. 

While the beets are roasting, prepare your Ninja or Vitamix for the almond cheese. Drain your almonds and add them to your blender cup. Add the lemon juice, oil, garlic, nutritional yeast, herbs, salt and pepper. This mixture will be stubborn to begin with, but be patient. Invariably, I will need to add a bit more oil or lemon juice, but don't get carried away, because it will magically come together and you don't want for it to become to thin. Pulse away until you have a consistency that you can form into balls. I still like to see bits of ingredients for interest and texture; it needn't be smooth. This is also the time to add more herbs or nutritional yeast, to your preference. Transfer contents into a small bowl and form into rounds with your hands. Roll each ball into sliced almonds and more thyme, if desired. Depending on the size you make, this batch will produce about four golf ball sized portions (pictured: three undressed, one finished).

 

Time to assemble. Plate your mixed greens and very lightly dress them with your prepared dressing. Garnish with sliced shallot and top with the roasted beets and herbed almond cheese. Don't forget a few slices of toasted baguette to complete this extremely satisfying spring dish.

Enjoy!