Did you know that pine nuts are actually taken from pine cones? Well, thanks to Chef Jason Wyrick, I not only know this, but I also have a delicious new way to turn those little nuts into a rich and cheesy dish. The creamy vegan pine nut cheese in this recipe is blended with roasted green tea and fresh chives for delicious depth in flavor.
According to Chef Jason, there are a few secrets to this recipe.
Soaking the pine nuts in tea softens them, which helps create a smoother cheese alternative. I used roasted green tea in this recipe to give the pine nut cheese alternative a subtle, deep flavor. The tofu is used because it binds the other ingredients and provides the texture of a spread. This makes it easy to mix into the pasta.
This pasta pairs very well with salad that’s dressed in light and fruity vinaigrette.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Pine Nut Cheese Pasta
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- ½ cup freshly brewed roasted green tea (hojicha tea)
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 4 ounces extra firm tofu (Jason uses shelf-stable silken tofu)
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives, plus additional for garnish
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2 cups dry pasta, like bowties (use gluten-free, if needed)
- Fresh black pepper, for garnish (optional)
- Soak the pine nuts in the tea for 30 minutes.
- Pour the pine nuts and tea into your blender and puree into a smooth pine nut paste.
- Add the tofu, chives, salt, and white pepper. Blend until you have a thick “cheese,” with the consistency of a thick spread.
- Let the mixture sit for at least 20 minutes.
- Boil the pasta until it is barely al dente. Drain the pasta and plate it.
- Place a mound of the herbed “cheese” on each plate of pasta. Garnish the pasta with freshly ground black pepper or chives, if desired.
Speedier Version: You can cheat on this recipe and simply blend everything together without letting the pine nuts soak in the tea and without letting the “cheese” sit. If you boil the pasta while you are blending the cheese alternative, the entire dish will be ready in ten minutes. The flavors won’t be as blended and the “cheese” won’t be as smooth, but it’s much faster this way. Just use half the amount of roasted green tea (1/4 cup) or else the “cheese” will be too wet.