Lazy Raw Almond Cheese

Lazy Almond Feta Cheese with Herb OilYou guessed it, that’s the lazy grad student’s variation of that wonderful Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil recipe that’s been floating around for the past year. It’s a lovely recipe, and I’m sure it’s splendid when made as designed. but who can wait a day and a half for almond feta? Not this lady!

This variation involves a couple lazy short cuts. First, I reduce the soaking time by using smaller pieces of almonds. I usually use unblanched almonds, cause fiber is good for you- obviously, the texture won’t be as smooth, but it’s still just as tasty. Then, I skip the refrigeration step and just toss the mix into a pretty dish. You’ll need the dish to be an inch or so deeper than your cheese, this baby likes to rise (mysteriously).  Lastly, I just top the mess with good quality olive oil and fresh herbs- no need to go dirtying another pan. Definitely try the original version, but once you’re hooked and want it all the time, try this quicky version sometime instead. Like when you found the most perfect, fresh-baked baguette at the store, and need something to put on it so you feel less of a freak, eating baguette for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a given day…

Lazy Almond Feta Cheese

1 cup sliced raw almonds, fresh as you can get them, blanched or unblanched
1/4 cup lemon juice, plus more to taste if you’re really digging the lemon (I dig)
2 tbsp good olive oil, plus more to drizzle over
1 largish clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh rosemary, or dried, to sprinkle over (the original recipe calls for thyme too, but if you’re only committed to spending a little bit on fresh herbs, go for the rosemary)

Optional garnish: Flaky salt, a fresh squeeze of lemon, some olives, and some cracked black pepper or crushed red chili peppers (or both!)

Soak almonds in tepid water, out of the fridge, for at least two hours- they should be gummy around the edges. If soaking for longer, toss it in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before draining. Blend in a food processor with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. If needed, add water a teaspoon or two at a time. The less water you have to use, the better. Try and keep it under two tablespoons. Toss in a oven-safe serving dish- larger, shallow ones do better than deeper ones, since the cheese will dry out more evenly that way. Don’t worry if it looks scant. So long as it’s an inch or so deep, once you top it with all those pretty toppings no one will feel like they’re being short-changed on their cheese! Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until browning on top. Alternately, skip this step and enjoy raw. Believe me, it’s just as good either way. The warmth of the cheese brings out the olive notes in the oil, so maybe warm slightly in a bain marie if you want to keep it raw, but want some warmth as well. Top it with a glug or two of olive oil, the rosemary, and any of the optional toppings you like. Try not to eat it in one sitting…. though be warned, I have yet to exhibit such self-control myself.