The first time I tried roasted red pepper hummus, I had to keep rechecking the package ingredients to make sure it didn’t have any actual dairy or whey in it, because it just tasted so cheesy to me. Since then, I’ve used roasted red peppers and raw cashews (because of its neutral taste and high fat content) to replicate this flavor in things like this dish, and this one, as well as a coating for kale chips—simply because it tastes so rich and complex. Here I’ve incorporated that same concept into a port wine cheese ball. This mixture is packed with quinoa and raw tahini for bulk, an array of nuts for texture, and a splash of port wine to give it a depth of flavor and a little boozy kick.
1 cup vegetable or Imagine brand No-Chicken broth
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup raw cashews
10 oz. prepared roasted red peppers
3 TB port wine
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 TB raw tahini
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts, roughly crushed
3/4 cup almonds, crushed into a fine powder.
To make the quinoa, place the broth into a small saucepan over medium heat. While you wait for the broth to come to a small boil, place the quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse well under cold water to remove the bitter saponin coating. Then transfer the quinoa to a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat. Toast for a few minutes. By now, your broth should be at a low boil. Scrape the quinoa into the broth, stir and cover it with a tight lid. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. All of the broth should be fully absorbed by the quinoa. Set aside to cool.
Place the raw cashews into a food processor and grind into a fine powder. Add in the roasted red peppers and port wine. Pulse until fully combined. Add in the nutritional yeast, tahini and salt, then pulse again. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, and stir in the crushed walnuts and cooled quinoa.
Place in the freezer for about an hour to allow the mixture to slightly firm up so you can form it into two large cheese balls or several small cheese balls. They can then be placed into the refrigerator or set out at room temperature for 45 minutes before rolling them in the crushed almonds to serve. This can alternatively be served as a cheesy spread—just place it directly into the refrigerator after combining the mixture.