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Dairy-Free Recipes for Cheese

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Cheese in many regions is regarded with the reverance attributed to other foods that require a great deal of time and artistry to create, like a fine wine. For this reason, cheese is often hard to substitute; prepared non-dairy cheeses often don't melt correctly or at all, while others really cannot capture the subtle sweet and savory flavors of the dairy product. These recipes will help guide you to making delicious dairy-free cuisine that traditionally uses cheese as a main component.

Basic Dairy-Free Cheese Recipe

Half a bagel with vegan cream cheese
J Shepherd/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

This basic cheese recipe is incredibly easy to make and can stand in for a variety of cheeses. It can be crumbled and used in recipes that call for ricotta, spread like cream cheese on sandwiches or bagels, sliced and served with crackers or veggies or served warm as a creamy dip. Made with nutritional yeast, soymilk and tofu, this "cheese" is both healthy and tasty.

Best Used to Replace:

    Cream Cheese
    Mascarpone
    Ricotta

Brie Round Recipe

© 2007 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

This non-dairy cheese is incredibly rich and creamy, standing in well for soft and semi-soft cheeses. It stands well on its own as an indulgent treat, but is also fantastic when added to dishes that need a creamy and melty component, such as dairy-free pizza or Dairy-Free Brie En Croute.

Best Used to Replace:

    Brie
    Camembert
    Chevre
    Cream Cheese
    Mascarpone
    "Melted" Cheeses
    Roquefort

Creamy & Mild Cheese Sauce

© 2007 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

This basic cheese sauce is mild enough for classics like Macaroni & Cheese or other children's favorites, but it also works wonderfully for vegetable and potato bakes and casseroles, as well as other pasta dishes. This is also an excellent dip for garlic breadsticks, jalepeno soft pretzels or other appetizers that have a strong flavor. It is by far a healthier option than traditional cheese sauces, as it is packed with B-vitamins and protein, but without the saturated fat and cholesterol of cheese.

Best Used to Replace:

    Sauces from mild cheeses, such as mozzarella, moneray jack or "American" cheese

Easy Cheese Sauce

&copy [2007] [Ashley Skabar] licensed to About.com, Inc.

Tahini gives this sauce its body, while vegetable broth powder and prepared mustard add to its kicky taste and texture. This will work well as a substitution for sauces prepared with stronger, sharper cheeses, such as cheddar or Gouda. It can also be a dip for nachos, French fries and veggies.

Best Used to Replace:

    Sauces from stronger cheeses, such as cheddar, gouda and swiss

Herbed Yogurt Cheese

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Perfect for parties or everyday snacks and meals, this is one of my favorite dairy-free cheese recipes, as it truly has a texture and flavor similar to that of real cheese. The secret is in its preparation: like traditional dairy-based cheeses, the liquid portion of the soy yogurt is drained from the solid through a cheesecloth, which emulates the extracting of the whey from the "curds" of dairy-based milk. Savory and flavored with fresh herbs, this "cheese" is a casein-free culinary celebration!

While I prefer to eat this cheese with crackers on its own, it can also be used to replace soft herbed cheeses such as brie, blue cheese, chevre, cream cheese and other of softer, creamier textures.

Non-dairy Ricotta Cheese

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.
This dairy-free ricotta recipe is easy to make for quick weeknight meals, and it stands in well for soft, crumbled cheeses like ricotta and chevre. Whether you're looking to make homemade ravioli or just want to add a bit of texture and flavor to your dairy-free meals, this is an inexpensive and easy way to get the job done.

Best used to replace:

    Chevre
    Ricotta

Yogurt Cheese

© 2007 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Many good things in life, do, indeed take time. This wonderful cheese substitute is no exception; while it takes 1-3 days to make, it is by far my favorite dairy-free cheese. The secret in its cheese-like taste and texture is that it is actually made in the same way as traditional dairy cheese, which is by draining the whey from cultured milk and adding an agent to help it ferment. In this instance, miso, fermented soybean paste, is added to unsweetened soy yogurt to contribute to the fermentation process as well as to add a salty flavor. This has a mild but nutty flavor, making it an ideal substitue for soft cheeses and those from goat and sheep milk, but really, I like it for everything!

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