There are a lot of dairy-free cheeses out there, and even more recipes to make your own. To my shame, I haven’t really done much beyond try (and fail) to make almond mozzarella a year or 2 ago. I’d like to spend more time testing and perfecting cheese substitute recipes, and with that in mind, I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far about making tofu-based feta.
I started working with tofu feta last fall while making a batch of spanakopita, and its success was a pleasant (and delicious) surprise! The results were quickly devoured, as well as the subsequent batches that I made through the winter. As the weather warmed, I began craving the tomato and artichoke salad I used to make with feta; more experimentation followed. I now think I’ve got a handle on a quick and easy process for making your own vegan feta. All you need is a block of tofu, some vinegar and herbs, and 2 hours, and you’ll have a pound of dairy-free feta however you like!
One 1 lb. block tofu, firm or extra firm
½ C. white vinegar
½ C. red wine vinegar
3 T. olive oil
1 T. salt
3 T. nutritional yeast
3 stalks fresh oregano
3 stalks fresh basil
Prep time: about 2 hours
Yield: one pound of feta
There are 2 tricks to making a good tofu feta - pressing and vinegar. For the first, I drain the tofu block and cut length-wise with a sharp knife. This helps shorten pressing time, as there is now twice the surface area being squeezed.
-Place the slices next to each other, but not touching, on a flat surface like a baking sheet.
-Wrap in at least 4 layers of kitchen towels. You can use paper if you don’t have enough cloth towels, but I would imagine that paper may tear and stick to the tofu when the weight is lifted.
-Once your tofu is wrapped, place another flat surface on top, like a book or baking sheet, and weigh down with a few heavy objects within reach; I usually just use my flour and sugar containers.
-Press for 30-60 min.
-Combine the vinegar, olive oil, salt, nutritional yeast, oregano and basil in a medium bowl.
-Muddle the herbs with the back of a wooden spoon or similar utensil so the flavors are stronger.
-When the pressing is done, remove the weight and unwrap the tofu. It should be significantly thinner and ready to be cubed and marinated.
-Using a sharp knife, cut horizontally and then vertically, resulting in more or less uniform cubes roughly the size of normal feta.
-Place in the vinegar mixture and marinate on the counter for at least an hour; if you want or need to let it marinate for longer than 2 hours, it can be put in the refrigerator overnight.
-Drain tofu in a colander, removing the oregano and basil, then squeezing out excess liquid by hand.
I crumble it while squeezing to get the traditional feta chunks, and then add to whatever dish I plan on using it in. The pressing and vinegar marinade should give the tofu that familiar feta consistency, and won’t add moisture to your recipes. Besides spanakopita, I have had great results using this feta in spinach Florentine rolls and most recently the tomato and artichoke orzo salad I mentioned earlier
There are few things I love as much as a versatile recipe...