Never mind the real life crises of the world. It seems the biggest threat to humanity right now is that of an impending Velveeta shortage. At least that’s what the folks at Kraft are hoping you believe. So you better hurry up and stock up on the “velvety” processed cheese block, right? Wrong. Consider this your chance to find better alternatives that will ensure you survive the Cheesepocalypse and amp up your cheese game just in time for National Cheese Lover’s Day (January 20) and the Super Bowl on February 2 … vegan and lactose-free options included!
This is the easiest way to put a tasty twist on the traditional bowl of popcorn. In a large bowl simply mix one bag of plain popcorn with 1/2 cup of grated Parrano Dutch cheese, two teaspoons of dried rosemary, one teaspoon of seasoned salt and a dash of ground pepper. I like Parrano because it’s nutty like Parmigiano-Reggiano but firm and smooth like Gouda. You can find it at Whole Foods and other supermarkets.
Instead of using the goopy orange slop at your next tailgating party, try grating Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar over tortilla chips and black (or pinto) beans. Bake in the oven on a large baking sheet at 375 degrees until melted, then top with pico de gallo, black olives and avocado chunks or guacamole. (You can also add meat if that’s your thing.) I like Cabot cheese because it’s natural (no hormones) and supports a co-op of dairy farm families on the East Coast. Oh … and Cabot has no lactose, so intolerants can indulge!!!
The thought of stretchy greasy cheese bubbling over pizza crust makes my stomach gurgle in the worst way possible, so I’m all about the non-dairy pie. Many vegans sing the praises of Daiya cheese for its chewy-melty factor, but I’m not a fan of the flavor (sickly sour), so I recommend either a cheeseless pizza with marinara and/or pesto (the fabulous recipe is here) or adding a few dollops of cashew cheese instead (super easy recipe here). The texture is nothing like mozzarella, but its creamy and deliciously subtle flavor enhances and elevates any pizza experience.
Cheese Stuffed Baby Peppers
For a real kick to your snacking, try cheese-stuffed peppers. Grab however many sweet baby bell peppers or jalapenos (for extra heat) you want, cut the tops off and scoop out the seeds. In a mixing bowl combine about six ounces of any cheese you like (such as Parrano), cream cheese, one teaspoon smoked paprika and three teaspoons of chopped chives. Place in piping bag or plastic bag with corner clipped off. “Pipe” cheese mixture into each pepper and serve. You can replace dairy cheese with creamy vegan cheeses. Best of all, you can eat the whole thing, so there’s no mess left to clean!
Vegan Brie, Crackers, Fruit … and Vino
The swiftest and simplest way to add a little sophistication to your snacking experience is a cheese board … with accoutrements and wine, of course. You can’t go wrong with Di Stefano burrata, Brie, Camembert and Piave, but the artisanal non-dairy, nut-based cheeses from Kite Hill are pretty awesome alternatives. Seriously. The very subtle Cassucio is like the texture of tofu while White Alder is a soft-ripened velvety cheese with a white, fluffy rind and tangy mushroomy flavor that pairs well with grapes. Absolutely no Velveeta required!