I I will not lie, as a newer member of the plant based food movement – I LOVE CHEESE. I was raised in one of the dairy capitals of the world. Cheese was always in our home. My personal favorite is feta. Something about the brine, salt and how it pairs so well with olives and crumbles. It was a treat and only on special occasions. I knew one of my first orders of business was to discover a vegan feta.
To my sad dismay, no one around here sold anything close to a vegan feta. Darn it all, on my rural roots. Google it is. the Virtual Vegan had a tofu feta that claimed to be easy and tasty and crumbles. Ok so far so good. Is this gonna end in a Pinterest style fail? I could only imagine how badly tofu feta could fail. I carefully read her instructions, waiting the buffering time on my now obsolete ipad2. (I use my ipad in kitchen, it has an otterbox and don’t want to risk spills on my laptop.) Well, seemed easy enough. Blender check, ingredients check, willingness to risk a $4 loaf of tofu…eh nothing else better to do ?!?
I followed her recipe carefully as it read not to deviate from any step as it said it could alter the feta taste…that is what I was after. I added all the ingredients, pureed, she mentioned it may seem strange but to trust her. Ok Vegan lady…I stashed the whole thing in fridge in loaf pan. In the morning I had a lump of cold tofu puree. Staring at it I wondered if this lump would turn into the magnificent feta she promised. I baked as directed and cooled and soon the time of truth arrived. Cutting, & crumbling. Wow, it actually is like Feta. Taste : I did note that I like a really salty brine feta so I would use the full amount of salt recommended next time. But surprisingly, a very good feta, despite the unorthodox methods. I popped it onto a veg salad and grabbed a drink. Thinking of the possibilities this posed. Burgers, pastry, vinaigrette… Virtual vegan you passed. I will use this recipe again.
So for your pleasure here is the Virtual Vegans Melanie McDonald’s lovely feta recipe. Why mess with a good thing right? Printable version found here
- 350 g / 12 oz extra firm tofu , no need to press
- ½ cup / 120 ml melted refined coconut oil (measured after melting) , it MUST be refined and not unrefined or virgin
- 45 ml / 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 30 ml / 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried dill , please note the finished feta does not taste of dill at all – Strangely, it helps the feta flavour so please don’t omit it.
- 1½ – 2 teaspoons salt , or to taste
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor (this recipe does not work well in a blender, even a high powered one), starting off with only half of the salt. Blend it all up until smooth then taste and add more salt as needed. Blend to incorporate it after each addition. Remember that this is feta so it should have quite a salty edge. I like to use a full 2 teaspoons in mine. Serve or use from blender for soft feta. Continue on for firm crumbly feta.
Line an oven proof pan/dish with baking parchment. A square or rectangular shaped pan/dish is best if you want to be able to cut perfect cubes once it’s ready. A loaf pan will work well. It doesn’t matter if the cheese doesn’t fill the container. You just need the cheese to be between 1 and 2 inches deep once it’s in there.
Spoon the cheese from the food processor into the oven proof dish and push it down well and evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or overnight is fine). This step is important. If you don’t refrigerate before baking, the coconut oil can separate a little on the bottom while cooking.
Preheat oven to 400°F (200 °C) and once at temperature, remove the cheese from the fridge and bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven. It will be puffy, a bit soft and bubbly but will set again as it cools. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before cubing or crumbling.
For an authentic feta flavour, it is very important to not alter the ingredients or their quantities at all (except for the salt). Every one plays an important role and the recipe will not be at its best if you change them. Feta can be frozen upto 2 months.