Sundried Tomato & Basil Cheese Ball

Tonight is a good night. I’m so ready for the holidays this year. Thanksgiving (a.k.a. pre-Christmas) is just around the corner and I’m getting excited for holiday cheer and of course, food. Lots of it. I pulled out my Christmas decorations tonight and I’ve been wrestling with my kitty, Icarus, whose current goal in life is to tear all of the ornaments off of our tiny, artificial Christmas tree. But the struggle seems to have subsided for the time being, so I’m taking the time to finally post a recipe I’ve wanted to share for a while.

I’ve been up to a lot since the last time I posted. I started a yoga teacher training program at a nearby yoga studio, which has been fantastically fulfilling and rewarding. It’s been great to learn more about yoga history, philosophy, and practice and start to share it with students and community members through the yoga club at the university where I work.

However, I’m ashamed to admit that I have definitely not been keeping up with my goal to post once a week on the blog. I’m hoping to make a fresh start with this fantastic Sundried Tomato and Basil Cheese Ball recipe! After reading Miyoko Schinner’s “Artisan Vegan Cheese,” I’ve been tinkering around with making cheeses, and this is one that I’ve created using the techniques from her book as inspiration. It’s perfect for holiday gatherings and tastes absolutely fantastic on baguette slices or crackers. But seriously, go with the baguette if you can. Nothing beats creamy, flavorful cheese spread over slices of a delicious baguette. Whatever you do, be sure to eat this cheese!

One note for this recipe is that you will need a good food processor or high-power blender to make this cheese. I have an 11-cup Cuisinart food processor.

Sundried Tomato & Basil Cheese BallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup rejuvelac (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (oil-packed or dried)
  • 4 cubes Dorot frozen basil, equivalent to 4 teaspoons densely-packed chopped basil (I cannot recommend these fresh frozen basil cubes enough, they have transformed my life. If you don’t have these handy, I would recommend acquiring some fresh or concentrated basil and adding it to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 teaspoons + 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil (optional)

If you have purchased rejuvelac from the store, please skip this step. To make rejuvelac, soak 1/2 cup of whole grains, such as wheat or quinoa overnight. Next, sprout the grains in a sprouter or mason jar (I use this sprouter), rinsing multiple times a day until the grains begin to grow little shoots. At this point, place the sprouted grains in a 1 quart mason jar filled with purified water. Leave the grains soaking for approximately 24 hours, or until the water looks cloudy and smells and tastes tangy. That’s rejuvelac, folks! Put it in the fridge and it will keep for several weeks.

Now, on to the cheese. Begin by soaking the cashews for several hours or overnight. Then, process the cashews with the rejuvelac and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor. At this step, you don’t need to worry about processing the cheese until it’s completely creamy, you’ll be processing it again later, so it’s fine if the texture is slightly grainy. Next, leave the cashew mixture in a covered glass dish in a cupboard or other cool, dry place to culture for 24 to 36 hours, depending on desired sharpness.

After it has finished culturing, proces the cashew cheese with the sundried tomatoes, basil, nutritional yeast, salt and (optional) coconut oil. Be sure to only use refined coconut oil, as virgin coconut oil will impart a coconut flavor to your food. The purpose of the coconut oil is to make the cheese slightly firmer, as coconut oil solidifies nicely, but the cheese is still great without it.

Also, at this step I used the full 2 teaspoons of salt, but you may wish to start with less salt and only add as much as needed to suit your personal preferences.

From here, blend until smooth and creamy, and then form into a ball and place in a glass dish in the refrigerator for several hours, until chilled and slightly firm. If desired, top with fresh or dried basil.

Sundried Tomato and Basil CheeseFinally, spread and eat!

Sundried Tomato Basil Cheese

Chanukah Challah

Since Thanksgiving this year fell on the first day of Chanukah, I felt it was only fitting to make vegan challah instead of the usual rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. This recipe is adapted from a Swedish cardamom bread recipe from the Vegetarian Times. This is probably one of the most delicious breads I have ever tasted. And if you know me, you know that I love bread.

Not only is it delicious, but it’s also fairly easy to make. Just be sure to plan far enough in advance to let it sit overnight in the fridge. That’s important. The first time I made it, I only chilled it for about 30 minutes because I’m impatient like that, and the finished product wasn’t nearly as big and beautiful as the next time I made it when I actually chilled it overnight.

So without further ado, I bring you, challah. Make some in the next few days to celebrate Chanukah! You won’t be sorry.

Vegan Challah Breadvegan challah bread


2 cups almond, soy or rice milk, plus more for brushing loaf top
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup agave nectar or brown rice syrup
1/3 cup canola oil, coconut oil or melted Earth Balance
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
5 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons organic sugar, for sprinkling

First, stir together the non-dairy milk, flaxseeds, agave nectar, oil, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the flour and mix well. You may need to use your hands to mix it thoroughly, but you don’t need to knead it. When the dough is mixed, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let stand 2 and a half hours at room temperature. Then chill it overnight in the refrigerator. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or coat with cooking spray). Divide the dough into two halves. Then divide your first half into three equal pieces. 

vegan challah bread

Roll each piece into a long rope on a floured surface.

vegan challah bread

When you’ve made your three dough ropes, pinch the ends together and braid them. When you finish, pinch the other ends together. 

vegan challah bread

When I made the loaves pictured, I decided to add rosemary to my second loaf. If you want to get fancy with the spices, then feel free to throw in some rosemary (or other desired spice) to your remaining dough

.vegan challah bread

Repeat with your second half of dough and cover both with a towel, allowing them to rise for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the top of your braided loaves with almond milk or spray lightly with cooking spray. Then follow by sprinkling with organic sugar. In the loaves I made today, I sprinkled one with cinnamon sugar and the other with fresh rosemary from my newly acquired baby rosemary plant.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes. Enjoy!

vegan challah bread