Chanterelle Mushroom and Tofu Ricotta Tartine
I’m not even sure it needs to be mentioned anymore that vegan cheese is, in fact, real cheese. Gone are the old ‘cheddars’ whose only resemblance to their dairy counterpart was the orange colour. We now have a wonderful selection of well prepared, flavourful cheese. Companies like Kite Hill, Miyoko’s Kitchen, and Treeline are going to great lengths to produce remarkable cheese. What I find most hopeful is the number of artisan cheese-makers who are expanding the range of non-dairy cheeses. Artisan companies like Culchurd in Toronto, and Fresh Start Fauxmage from Prince Edward Island, are making it possible to erase the argument of ‘I could never give up cheese!’
Many of the simpler cheeses are actually quite easy to prepare at home. Fantastic books have been written on the topic and I would certainly recommend that you add them to your personal cookbook libraries. Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner and Non-Dairy Evolution by Skye Conroy are two of my favourites. There’s enough in each of those to keep you blissfully full of vegan cheese for ages!
I’m going to share my recipe for tofu ricotta topped with my absolute favorite mushroom – chanterelles. In traditional form, ricotta was made by re-cooking the whey left over from cheese-making. Ricotta means re-cooked. More often nowadays, it is no more than dairy milk heated and then acidified. The milk curdles and is then ladled into cheesecloth to drain and firm up. Tofu is actually made by a similar process: soy milk is heated and then acidified until is curdles, the curds are then removed and pressed together until firm. So it makes sense that tofu is the starting point for this recipe. Chanterelle mushrooms have an all-too-brief season, but use them if you can get them. Between their apricot-like colour and wonderful flavour, they make this simple dish truly something special. If they aren’t available, use the same weight in oyster mushrooms (not king oyster mushrooms, they are very different). The flavour won’t be quite the same, but this will still make for a fantastic dish.
Literally, a tartine (French) is a slice of bread that has been spread with something. It has come to mean almost any manner of open-faced sandwich. In this version, I’ve toasted a thick slice of sourdough bread, spread it with some tofu ricotta cheese and topped it with some pan-roasted chanterelle mushrooms. Simply and perfect, mushrooms on toast! I especially love them this way. Bon appetite!
- 1lb/454g block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed to extract any excess water
- ½ - ¾ cup cashew milk (make cashew milk by blending ½ cup soaked cashews with 2 cups water, until smooth, you’ll have some extra)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 1 lb chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and torn in to pieces
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 2 large sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 4 ¾ -inch thick slices of really good sourdough. Use the best bread you can get your hands on.
- Additional extra-virgin olive oil to finish
- Gently mash the tofu until it is completely crumbled, but not smooth.
- Stir in ½ cup of the cashew cream, the nutritional yeast, olive oil and lemon juice. The tofu mix should be quite moist and soft, bordering on a little wet. Just like, wait for it, ricotta! Add more cashew milk until you are happy with the consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The salt should be subtle as the mushrooms will be more aggressively seasoned.
- Keep the ricotta at room temperature while you prepare the mushrooms and bread
- In a medium pan over moderate heat, warm the olive oil until hot. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook gently until they are beginning to soften, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chanterelles and the thyme sprigs. Cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the mushrooms are tender. About 10 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Mushrooms tend to need aggressive seasoning, but please stop short of making them salty (a fine line, I know)
- Off the heat, add a few drops of lemon juice. I find lemon juice pulls the flavour of mushrooms into clearer focus.
- Stir in the parsley.
- Toast the bread well.
- Spread on a very generous layer of the tofu ricotta.
- Top with a portion of the chanterelles
- Drizzle generously with extra-virgin olive oil