Nut "cheese" is not the first thing I expected to make from a Paleo cookbook. Most nut cheese recipes call for cashews; as someone with a cashew allergy, I have tended to avoid all dairy-free cheeses for the sake of safety. So I was pleasantly surprised when Michelle Tam's recipe for nut "cheese" in her new cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo, called for macadamia nuts. Mild-tasting, rich, and sweet, these round nuts not only fit into my diet, but they also seem like an ideal substitute for ricotta.
Now, using ground-up nuts in place of dairy won't ever create a product that tastes just like the original, but they do transform into a spread with a texture remarkably similar to firm ricotta. I could imagine spreading using it as a dip or a dessert topping. Tam uses the "cheese" in a towering stack of broiled eggplant, tomato, and balsamic reduction that we'll make tomorrow.
Why I picked this recipe: Could a nut-based "cheese" taste as good as the real thing?
What worked: As promised, this "cheese" came together lickety-split with a surprisingly creamy texture. It doesn't taste like ricotta, but it definitely tastes good.
What didn't: Nothing.
Suggested tweaks: Tam suggests mixing in smoked paprika, sun-dried tomatoes, and/or fresh basil to the "cheese." I think it would taste especially good spooned on top of baked fruit. You can make nut "cheese" out of cashews, as well. If you want to use a more dense nut, like almonds, you should use blanched nuts and soak them overnight before blending.
Reprinted with permission from Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong. Copyright 2013. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
Macadamia Nut "Ricotta" From 'Nom Nom Paleo'
About This Recipe
|Yield:||Makes about 1 1/2 cups|
|Active time:||5 minutes|
|Total time:||5 minutes|
|This recipe appears in:||Macadamia Nut "Ricotta" From 'Nom Nom Paleo'|
- 2 cups raw macadamia nuts
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Juice from 1/2 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 cup water
In a food processor or a high powered blender, purée the ingredients together until smooth. If necessary, scrape down the sides with a spatula and/or add a bit more water. The resulting texture should resemble—you guessed it!—ricotta cheese.