Monday, May 10, 2010

Betta feta

Today I want to highlight a recipe from a book that I don't feature enough here, Joanne Stepaniak's The Uncheese Cookbook. I own both it and Vegan Vittles, and this is one recipe that has intrigued me for a long time, though I'd never tried it. How can these ingredients possibly come out tasting even remotely like feta cheese? I mean, tahini? But, actually, they do! Not exactly, and the texture is different, but it's pretty close, full of tart, salty flavour, and very delicious!

What spurred me on to this experiment? Greek night for Mother's day. Each member of our family brought something. I brought dolmades (I'm flattered to report that my recent post on dolmades was the inspiration for Greek night), Douglas made wonderful lemon-roasted potatoes, and Diane made a Greek salad and Something Else of Which We Will Not Speak in this sacred vegan space. Anyway, I was feeling a little sorry for myself apropos of the Greek salad, because although Diane considerately had feta cheese on the side, it was still there, and say what you will, Greek salad isn't Greek salad without some kind of feta-like substance. So, the day before, thinking I had little to lose, I tried this recipe:

Betta feta
from The Uncheese Cookbook, by Joanne Stepaniak

1 lb regular tofu (I recommend extra-firm), cut or crumbled into 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
2 cups water
2 tbsp All-season blend (recipe follows)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic granules

Place the tofu cubes, the 2 cups of water and the All-season blend in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and place in a bowl.

[I have to insert here that the broth was so amazingly tasty that I kept it to use as stock. This looked very yellow, possibly owing to a misreading of the recipe for All-season blend on my part in which I used 1/2 tbsp instead of 1/2 tsp turmeric. No matter, it was still good, and magically the yellow faded out to almost-white after a day in the fridge, as you can see from the photograph heading this post.]

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour over the tofu and toss carefully.

Cover and chill several hours, stirring occasionally to make sure tofu cubes are evenly coated. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

All-season blend

1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast flakes
3 tbsp salt
1 tbsp onion granules
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp marjoram leaves
1/4 tsp ground dill seed

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until finely ground. Store in a covered container at room temperature.

All-season blend was a first for me, too, and well worth making. I can see I'll be using it often as a broth substitute when I have no vegetable broth, or to flavour this and that.

The Betta fetta needs to be chilled to reach its full potential. Two days later, the herbal flavours are starting to take over. But it's still very good.

I had it in the stupendous supper salad you see at the top of this post, which was composed of:

green onion
sweet red pepper
Zoa's "chicken-style" okara seitan, shredded

with a bit of mustard vinaigrette and some toasted Quick sun-dried tomato bread from Donna Klein's The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, which is a quick bread leavened with beer, which did not taste like sourdough bread as claimed, but which was still pretty good, if crumbly. I only had a bit left, and some of it I cut into cubes for the salad, and some of it went into this teeny tiny panini:


  1. Sad to say The Uncheese Cookbook has been neglected at our house, too. This was the first cookbook in which I found cheese sauce made from oats — and it tasted really good. I agree that the betta feta stands in quite nicely for dairy feta. (I also own Vegan Deli which has some surprisingly good deli-type foods.) Your photos always tempt me to go to the kitchen and cook!

  2. Wow, that looks great! I do miss feta, I gotta try this.

  3. Andrea, I haven't tried the cheese sauce from oats...another recipe I've been "saving" until I felt brave.

    Niki, this recipe is awesome. I've eaten it all and plan to make more tonight ;-)