It’s the holiday season, so woopdy doo and fiddly dee. Oh. Sorry. I didn’t see you there. I was just singing along to some of my favorite holiday music. I can’t decide what I like the most about the holidays — the music, the lights, or the food. Oh, of course, the food has to rank high on my list. When else do you have an excuse to munch on sugar cookies, chocolate covered peanut butter balls and fruitcake without guilt? Oh wait. I’ll probably pass on the fruitcake. But you know what I won’t pass on? This Sage and Gouda Vegan Cheese Ball. It’s my new favorite holiday appetizer!
I have a new theory to share with you. December is just one, big l-o-o-o-o-ng Sunday. Think about it. Both have football, shopping, and people opting to eat whatever they want, because, you know they’re planning to start a diet the next. For people living on a Sunday, their diet will begin on Monday. For people who find themselves in December, well, they can eat to their heart’s content because they’re planning a kick-ass diet in January! See? There’s a lot of commonality there.
What I love about this Vegan Cheese Ball
Remember how I told you before that I love sharing vegan recipes with non-vegan folks and having them look at me with surprise and say, “This is vegan?” It makes me little heart patter. Well, that happened with this recipe. I have a friend, Rhondda, who is a self ascribed cheese aficionado. And based on what she’s told me, she hasn’t been too impressed with the non-dairy variety, at least not until she tried this vegan cheese ball. “Oh, Marly,” she said after just one bite, “this is good. Really, really good.”
So I love how flavorful this vegan cheese ball is with its crispy sage, salty pistachios, and the sweet chopped craisins encrusting the outside. It really makes for a delicious appetizer.
This recipe is the poster child for vegan food that is tasty too. I can’t tell you how many people I meet that seem to think vegan food is bland or boring. I’m here to say that’s not so!
Why You Should Give Vegan Cheese a Chance
Look, it used to be true that vegan cheese wasn’t so great. It didn’t melt well and even if it did, the taste wasn’t worth eating anyway. But there’s no denying that people love cheese and it’s one reason a lot of folks won’t even consider a vegan diet. They can’t imagine giving up cheese.
I will confess I was in that category for years.
Here’s what I have to say about it after finally giving up dairy-based cheeses: I WILL NEVER GO BACK!
That’s not yelling, it’s excited enthusiasm. There’s a local restaurant that serves vegan pizza and one time I ordered my vegan pizza and they accidentally put dairy-based mozzarella on it. In the dark restaurant I didn’t see the difference, but all it took was one bite and I knew something was up. It tasted awful.
That’s right – that dairy-based cheese that was SO HARD for me to give up now tasted bad.
That’s how malleable taste buds are.
So here I am imploring you to try this recipe. We loved it. Cheese lovers love it. I think you will too! You know what would make me happier than you actually trying this recipe? You sharing a photo of it on Instagram or Twitter with #NamelyMarly so I can see it too.
OK. That’s it for today’s post. Share this recipe with your friends or leave a comment below about why you love (or even hate) non-dairy cheese. I’m looking forward to the discussion!
Smoked Cheese and Sage Vegan Cheeseball
- 2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
- 15 fresh sage leaves
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon pistachios
- 8 oz container of vegan cream cheese
- 7 oz package of Daiya Smoked Gouda Style Block finely chopped or shredded
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup craisins chopped
- crackers for serving, I used Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins Smokehouse
- Place the margarine in a skillet over medium heat. As soon as the margarine starts to sizzle, add the 10 of the fresh sage leaves, toss in the melted margarine to combine and cook the leaves until crispy. Use a spatula or tongs to remove from the margarine and place on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Set the skillet on a back burner, to allow the sage-infused margarine to cool.
- In the meantime, place the pumpkin seeds and pistachios on a tray and heat in your toaster oven or oven for about 5 minutes on 200F. Alternatively you could toast these in a separate skillet than the one used in step one above.
- Next place the vegan cream cheese, chopped or shredded Daiya cheese, salt, crispy sage, toasted pumpkin seeds and pistachios, and the sage infused margarine leftover from your skillet in a food processor. Pulse for a second or two and then stir to combine, using your spatula to break up any larger chunks. Repeat this process until the mixture is combined. I like leaving chunks of the ingredients rather than pulverizing to a fine consistency.
- Add a few sprigs of the fresh sage to the mixture as you place it on a sheet of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Mold this into a ball and place in the fridge to firm up for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, chop the craisins and after the cheese ball has firmed up, and you've molded it into more of a ball shape, add the craisins around the outside of the cheeseball.
- Serve immediately with crackers or place back in the fridge to serve later.
If you like this recipe, you might want to check these out as well:
- Pomegranate Jeweled Cheese Ball by How Sweet Eats. This is the recipe that inspired me in the first place!
- Another inspirational Vegan Cheese Ball by Vegan Yack Attack. How delicious!
- Check out this Date Cheese Ball by Vegetarian Times. Delish!
- Or you can try some of my favorite recipes like this Avocado Jalapeño Grilled Cheese Sandwich or my Velvet Vegan Cheese Sauce.
Whatever recipe you’re working on, enjoy!