This vegan lentil cashew cheese ball is an easy, festive vegan cheese appetizer topped with cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Perfect for holiday or Christmas parties.
Note: This post was sponsored by Canadian Lentils as part of their #LoveLentils campaign. All opinions are my own as I only work with brands whose products I actually use and enjoy. Thanks for supporting my blog.
When I first found out that my body could no longer handle cheese I legit cried for days. How would I make grilled cheese? What would I put on pizza? What would I nibble on while drinking red wine?
Since then I’ve discovered that store bought vegan cheese and nutritional yeast are great for grilled cheese and pizza, respectively. But my red wine has been dreadfully lonely because I wasn’t able to find a replacement for that last scenario.
However, that’s all about to change thanks to this holiday-inspired vegan lentil cashew cheese ball.
That’s right, I made my own cheese out of cashews and lentils. Ground breaking? Nope. But it’s a first for me.
I’ve been hearing about vegan cashew cheese for years but have never made my own. To be completely honest, cashews are hella expensive and I wasn’t about to start buying and grinding them up all willy nilly.
But after experimenting with this lentil biscotti, I decided to try to ‘stretch’ the cashews with some cooked split red lentils. Why lentils? The official reason is that, similar to cashews, lentils are high in protein which is necessary for the formation of vegan cheese.
And as an added bonus, they contain less fat, more fibre and are much less expensive, which is what really sold me on them in the first place.
Although the recipe calls for quite a few ingredients and the cheese takes about 9 hours from start to finish, it’s a still fairly simple.
3 basic steps to making a cashew cheese ball:
- soak your cashews and cook the lentils
- blend in food processor until smooth
- form cheese into a ball and allow to set
There are a couple ways to actually get the cashew cheese into ball form from here. You can wrap it up in cheese cloth and let the liquid drain out over a few days. Or you can use plastic wrap and let cheese ball firm up in the fridge or freezer for a few hours.
Option number two is my preferred method since it’s so much quicker. Plus, the resulting cashew cheese ball is firm but pliable enough to decorate and/or scoop without falling apart.
I’m seriously obsessed with this lentil cashew cheese ball and plan to experiment with a few different flavours. But for now I’ll keep making and stuffing my face with this festive AF version.
Oh and don’t forget the wine.
More vegan appetizers and snacks:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
- ¾ cup cooked split red lentils
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- zest and juice of half a lemon
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp prepared mustard
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, solid or room temp, not melted
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- ¼ tsp salt, more or less to taste
- Optional: 2 tbsp dried cranberries
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- Add 1 cup raw cashews to a glass bowl or jar and cover with cool water. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the refrigerator to soak overnight or for at least 6 hours*
- If not using already cooked lentils, cook according to package directions and allow to cool fully before beginning to make cheese
- Once the cashews are soaked and the cooked lentils have cooled, drain and rinse the cashews then add them to the bowl of your food processor
- Add the remaining cheese ball ingredients, expect the cranberries and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed
- If there isn't enough liquid to get it going add up to a tablespoon more liquid, either lemon juice or coconut oil, but try not to add too much as this will prolong the time it takes for the cheese ball to set
- Once the cheese is smooth and creamy add the cranberries and pulse a few times to incorporate
- Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary
- Scoop the cashew cheese mixture into a bowl wrapped with plastic wrap
- Gather up the sides of the plastic and twist to form a ball
- Place the bowl in the fridge and allow the cheese to set and firm up for 3 - 6 hours or until it holds it's shape when removed from the plastic wrap
- When firm, remove the cheese ball from the plastic wrap and shape as desired
- Press the dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds onto the outside of the ball
- You can serve immediately or wrap in plastic again and refrigerate until needed
- Serve with crackers, chips and wine. Leftovers should last for about a week in the fridge