Vegan Gorgonzola (Blue Cheese)
Back in my "non-vegan" days, I rarely ate gorgonzola. My mother occasionally prepared pasta with gorgonzola sauce, which I still remember quite well. Nevertheless, I didn't eat gorgonzola on its own, on a pizza, or in a salad. This is why I was very excited to learn how to prepare vegan gorgonzola myself. But first, let's start with the basics: Gorgonzola is a northern Italian blue cheese made from cow's milk, rennet, and salt, to which starter bacteria are added together with mold spores. At least that's what Wikipedia says. Okay, but how do I prepare gorgonzola without milk, mold cultures, and the like?
There were two significant aspects I was concerned about: texture and taste. Regarding texture, I ended up pretty quickly with a mix of plain tofu and cashews. While gorgonzola is creamy and soft, you can still crumble or cut it. By blending plain tofu with soaked cashews, I ended up with a soft yet firm consistency. Perfect! Hitting the ideal flavor of gorgonzola, on the other hand, was more difficult. As far as I can remember, gorgonzola smelled quite intense (and slightly stinky) and had an intense flavor. To recreate this in a plant-based version, I used miso paste. It's made from fermented soybeans and adds a fantastic umami flavor. Of course, nutritional yeast can't be missing either, bringing a cheesy taste to the mix. Dare to be generous with the seasoning because the base of cashews and tofu, is rather neutral in taste.
But now you're probably still wondering where the green or bluish color is coming from. It's spirulina! It tastes pretty neutral and is added just for the color. You can find it in the form of capsules, powder, or even pills at health food stores, pharmacies, or online. Spirulina is a blue-green alga and often used as a dietary supplement to boost the immune system and as a source of protein. Be sure to check how concentrated your spirulina is before using it. For example: my product recommended up to 4 capsules a day, so I was on the safe side using two capsules for our vegan gorgonzola (which I ate over several days). You can sprinkle the powder directly on top of your cashew tofu mixture and just gently fold it in. If you can find spirulina as capsules, carefully open them and then sprinkle the powder onto your mixture as well. Spirulina pills also work quite well: crush them either in a mortar or with a sharp knife until they are almost powdery.
Our vegan gorgonzola can be crumbled or cut into smaller pieces to be used to top of salads, for example. It also works great as finger food or on a cheese platter! So far, I haven't heated it to eat it with pasta or on a pizza. So if you try this, please share your results with us in the comments below!
Vegan Gorgonzola (Blue Cheese)
- 50 g (2 oz) cashews
- 50 g (2 oz) coconut oil
- 200 g (7 oz) firm tofu
- 0.5 lemon (juice)
- 10 g (1 tbsp) agave syrup
- 30 g (1 oz) miso paste
- 20 g (0.66 oz) nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2-3 capsules spirulina powder
Soak cashews in water for at least 30 minutes, then drain them.
Heat coconut oil in a small saucepan until melted.
Add firm tofu, soaked cashews, melted coconut oil, lemon juice, agave syrup, miso paste, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt to a blender. Mix until you get a creamy mixture.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and sprinkle with spirulina powder to create freckles. Gently work the powder into the mixture, but do not overmix – it's okay if the spirulina powder distributes irregularly.
Pour the mixture into a silicone mold and smooth it out. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (it's best to refrigerate it overnight).
Tip: Keep the vegan gorgonzola in your fridge and enjoy it within 2-3 days.