For the die-hard cheese lover, eliminating dairy can be extremely difficult. Other dairy-based delicacies have satisfying replacements: coconut-based ice cream, a variety of non-dairy milks, creams, and even butter. However, cheese is much harder to replicate. I have tasted many non-dairy cheeses, but none have quite compared to the “real thing.”
Fortunately for my fellow vegan cheese lovers, this Almond Basil Ricotta comes close. Creamy and smooth, this ricotta is incredible versatile. It is delicious served with fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and roasted beets, topped with balsamic glaze, or over fresh fruit drizzled with maple syrup. Use in place of dairy-based ricotta in lasagna or stuffed shell recipes, or serve on crackers as an elegant appetizer.
Although quite simple, this recipe does require some patience. The almonds require time to soak, then more time to drain after blending. But trust me – it’s worth the wait!
The addition of basil gives this ricotta a fresh summer flavor, however, you can also use other herbs, such as thyme, chives or rosemary.
Almond Herbed Ricotta
Makes 1 cup of Ricotta
- 1 cup raw, unsalted almonds
- 1 cup water, plus more for soaking the almonds
- 12 inch square of cheesecloth
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup fresh basil, minced
- 1 clove fresh garlic, crushed – optional
- Soak the raw almonds in 1 cup of water for at least 4 hours, preferably longer.
- Once the almonds have been soaked, drain and remove the skins. They should slide off easily when you squeeze the almonds. Discard skins.
- Add almonds and 1 cup cool water to a blender and blend on high until smooth. (The almonds will still be a little grainy.)
- Line a small strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour almond mixture into the strainer and set aside for at least 4 hours to slowly drain. (Do not squeeze the mixture as it should stay moist.)
- Put almond ricotta in a bowl and add salt to taste, fresh basil and crushed garlic, if desired.
- Store in the refrigerator and use within a week. Enjoy!