The shaded corners of my garden are filled with pretty white flowers, which means that the season for wild garlic is almost at its end. The pointed leaves of wild garlic are among the first to start growing after winter, which makes them a welcome herald of spring every year. And as I adore their pungent garlic flavour, each year I make the most of the short season and use them in as many dishes as I can. They regularly appear on the table in my springtime pesto, in the herb oil used to flavour my wild garlic focaccia and as the star in my wild garlic tortellini. My latest addition to the list is this ramson cashew cream cheese and it may be my favourite one so far. Creamy, savoury, slightly tart and packed with chopped wild garlic and mint, it’s a perfect celebration of the fresh flavours of spring.
With their mild flavour and creamy texture, cashew nuts make an ideal base for plant-based cream cheese. The recipe below uses them to make a non-fermented version that’s ready in minutes. Simply whizz the cashews with a little almond milk and some lemon juice for tartness and they’ll turn into a silky smooth, spreadable mix to be flavoured to your liking.
In this case I used some salt, pepper and onion powder for a savoury base and finished with a generous dose of chopped wild garlic and mint leaves. This gives the cream cheese a wonderful garlic-y punch and a nice and fresh flavour at the same time.
But you can vary the flavouring depending on the season and your personal preference. When wild garlic is unavailable, you can substitute it with a clove of garlic and some snipped chives. Instead of mint, almost any soft-leaved fresh herb would be lovely; try making it, for example, using chopped dill, tarragon, flat-leaf parsley or chervil.
Cashew cream cheese with wild garlic and spring herbs – makes a large bowlful
- 200 g raw cashew nuts, soaked in cold water for at least 3 hours, or overnight
- 100 ml almond milk
- juice of 1 lemon
- pinch of onion powder
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 15 small wild garlic leaves
- leaves of 2-3 sprigs of mint
If wild garlic is unavailable, you can replace it with a clove of garlic and a bunch of snipped chives. Try making this cheese with other herbs to your liking as well; it’s also delicious with dill, tarragon, parsley , chervil or other soft-leaved fresh herbs.
Drain the cashews in a sieve and rinse in fresh cold water. Using a stick blender or a small food processor, whizz the cashew nuts with the almond milk, lemon juice, onion powder, salt and pepper until completely smooth.
Remove the stem and central vein from the wild garlic leaves. Finely chop the garlic leaves and mint leaves. Stir them into the cashew cream cheese. Taste and adjust the flavouring if necessary.
The cream cheese will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days; the flavour will become more intense as it stands.