Many centuries ago, cheese was left to age in a moldy cave and became streaked with bluish-green mold. But rather than spoiling the cheese, the mold gave it a pungent smell and a distinctive flavor, and voila! bleu cheese was born. These days, bleu cheese, from the French for ("blue"), is made from cow's milk, sheep's milk, or goat's milk that has had Penicillium cultures (read: fungus) added, so that the final product is spotted or veined throughout with the blue or blue-green mold. Bleu cheeses are typically aged in a temperature-controlled environment, and many still use caves to age them.
Whether crumbled or used to make a dressing, the rich flavor of bleu cheese nicely balances bitter greens in salads. It can also be paired with bread, crackers, or fruit. As is characteristic of all bleu cheeses, Sunergia’s delightful vegan version is sharp and a bit salty. And incredibly, even has a slightly bleu cheese-like pungent smell.
Feta is a creamy white, salty, tangy cheese commonly used in Greek cuisine. It is traditionally made from goat's or sheep's milk, although sometimes cow's milk is substituted. It is aged in a salted and cured brine solution for several months, and is usually formed into blocks. With a slightly grainy texture, feta crumbles easily after cured, and can range in taste from mild to sharp. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads, pastries, and in baking. Similar cheeses are also found in many Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean countries.
Like it's bleu cheese cousin, Sungeria’s Soy Feta may not look white and crumbly, but it certainly has the salty-tangy taste of real Feta cheese. It comes in three varieties: Lemon Oregano, Tomato Garlic, and Mediterranean Herb. While I haven't tasted real blue cheese or feta cheese in many years, these two vegan versions certainly titillated my taste buds, and brought back many fond memories of meals past.
Sunergia Soyfoods Soy Bleu and Soy Feta cheeses are available online at: Vegan Essentials and are well worth the expense of shipping, if you can’t find them at a store near you. When you get your hands on some, here are two tasty recipes I think you’ll enjoy.
Serve this delicious and simple meal on a chilly morning with your favorite chai.
- 1 package Sunergia Soyfoods Soy Feta cheese alternative, cut into thin slices
- 1 small package pita bread
- 1 cup raisins or currants
- 1 cup walnuts (whole or halves)
Toast pita slices and cut into quarters. Serve with small bowls filled with each of the remaining ingredients. Have each person stuff pita quarters with the cheese, raisins or currants and walnuts. Alternative: Try substituting other kinds of dried fruit like cherries or cranberries.
Chicory Salad with Poached Pears, Pecans and Bleu Cheese
The combination of bitter greens with sweet fruit and salty feta combine to create a sensuous salad experience.
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup evaporated cane crystals
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bosc pears, peeled and cored
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
- 2 Tbs sherry vinegar
- 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup walnut oil
- 1 tsp evaporated cane crystals
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs chicory, stems discarded and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 package Sunergia Soyfoods Soy Feta cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, combine the water with the coriander, ginger, sugar, cinnamon stick, and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the sliced pears, cover and simmer over low heat until they are tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the poached pears to a small bowl, and discard the poaching liquid.
Toast pecans by spreading them on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt, and baked for about 7 minutes.
In a small bowls, stir the vinegars with the oils and sugar. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
In a large salad bowl, toss the chicory with the pears, pecans, and bleu cheese. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Serve immediately.