Is there an herb more versatile than basil? You can pretty much do anything you like with it, from pasta sauce to spreads to a few spare leaves in a crisp, summer salad. Flavorful and bright, it makes any dish more special and this creamy spread is no exception. I've included two recipes for vegan ricotta that you can choose from, one with soy and one without.

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Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil and Kalamata Olive ‘Ricotta’ Spread [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Serves

2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. (2 cups) plain vegan ricotta (store bought or homemade-- see my ricotta recipes below)
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil, sliced or chopped
  • 2/3 cup drained and sliced pitted kalamata olives
  • 3 oz. sliced sun-dried tomatoes in oil (squeeze most of the oil out, or rinse with warm water and drain well)
  • 3 tablespoons vegan parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Optional: a little bit of vegan milk or plain vegan creamer
Bryanna's Ricotta Di Soya (Tofu and Cashew Ricotta) Makes 3 1/2 Cups: 
  • 2 (12.3 oz.) boxes extra-firm SILKEN tofu, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons raw cashew pieces, ground very fine in a coffee/spice mill or mini-chopper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Bryanna's Soy-Free Almond “Ricotta” Makes 2 1/2 Cups:
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch (if you’re allergic to corn, you can use wheat starch, or use 6 tablespoons white rice flour), [organic cornstarch is available]
  • 1 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
 
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Preparation

  1. Combine all of the ingredients (except Optional) in a food processor and run until mixed to your satisfaction.  If it seems too thick, add a bit of nondairy milk or plain vegan creamer. Pack into a shallow container, seal and refrigerate.
For the Ricotta Di Soya:
  1. In a food processor, mix about 3 cups of the crumbled tofu, the ground cashews, the lemon juice and salt until they are VERY smooth. Then crumble in the remaining tofu and process again. The resulting mixture should be mostly smooth, but with a little graininess-- it doesn't have to be like cream cheese.
  2. Scoop the "ricotta" into a plastic container and refrigerate. It firms up when chilled.
For the Soy-Free Almond “Ricotta:” 
  1. Place the hot water and almonds in a blender and blend until a very smooth "cream" results-- be patient! It cannot be grainy. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend again well.
  2. Pour the mixture into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir constantly over medium-high heat until it thickens and comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook 1 minute more, stirring.
  3. MICROWAVE OPTION: Pour the mixture into a large microwave-safe bowl or beaker. Cook in microwave oven for 2 minutes at 100% power. Whisk. Microwave 1 to 2 minutes more, or until thickened.
  4. Scrape the mixture into a container and let it come to room temperature. Beat it with a whisk or electric hand mixer. Cover and chill. When it is chilled and firm, mash and stir it with a fork, until it has some texture. Refrigerate.
 


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