Baked Almond-based ‘Feta’

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Sometimes I find myself craving the savoury, tangy flavour that only cheeses can offer. When I was a little girl, I’m pretty convinced part of the reason I was on the heavier side was my enjoyment (and ravenous consumption) of cheese!

Cheese isn’t something I eat anymore really – between the adverse health effects and high prices of quality, organic cheeses that are free of all of the chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones found in conventional cheeses, it just doesn’t seem worth it. That’s why it’s been a goal of mine to discover a way to make a cheese-like product that would satisfy those cravings from whole, natural, and healthy ingredients.

Behold the baked almond-based feta! A creamy and savoury ‘cheese’ that spreads as easily as it crumbles and can be used to enhance the flavour of many dishes or enjoyed by itself on crackers or toast. I’ve included the conversions for a smaller batch in brackets as I’ve found the large batch is suitable for parties or dinners where lots of people are present but a smaller batch is much more suitable for day-to-day home use.

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Ingredients (small batch conversions):
– 1 ½ cups raw almonds, soaked in water overnight or blanched
for 5 minutes and cooled    (¼ cup + 5 almonds)
– ½ cup water    (⅛ cup)
– ¼ cup lemon juice    (1 tbsp)
– 3 tbsp olive oil    (2 tsp)
– 1 clove garlic    (½ clove)
– 1 ¼ tsp salt    (¼ tsp)

Drain almonds and pop off all the skins. Pulse in blender until it is a coarse meal.

Add water, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Blend until very smooth and creamy.

Line a strainer sitting over a bowl with 3 layers of cheesecloth. Pour mixture into cheesecloth and form it into a ball, securing with a string or elastic. Place strainer and bowl in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-inch round baking dish (or personal-sized ramekin for the small batch, about 3 inches in diameter) with a bit of olive oil. Unwrap the cheese and transfer to the baking dish, smooth side facing up.

Bake for 40 minutes (25 minutes for the small batch) or until slightly golden and cracked on top. Leave in dish to cool fully before transferring to a plate.

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Serve at room temperature or cold – an herb-infused oil adds wonderful flavour, too.

Enjoy!

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