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A Not-So-Good "Cheese" Trial

All of the meals I've been cooking for the past couple of months have so far turned out great. (Mind you, these are not complicated meals, but I'm an amateur in the kitchen, so I take pride where I can find it.) I had high hopes for last night's meal, green lentils mixed with brown rice and baked slices of yellow squash topped with vegan mozzarella cheese. You can probably tell where this is going.

I'm not and never have been a huge cheese fan, but because I tend to do a lot of straightforward beans, grains, and veggies, I thought I'd add a little something new this time. I've tried a variety of brands of vegetarian cheese, but many of the good-tasting brands have casein in them, which is a derivative of milk protein (which makes me wonder why they make a vegetarian cheese in the first place, when dairy cheese is already vegetarian), and which allows these alternative cheeses to taste so cheese-like. So when I started looking for vegan cheeses (that also do not contain soy or gluten), I found the selections were very limited. The most popular one I know of is Daiya. I've tried it before, and it's really not bad. It's not very cheese-like in taste resemblance (IMHO), but it has a good texture and flavor nonetheless. But it's also pricey, like close to $6 for a 32oz. bag. So I found this other, newer brand the other day made by Follow Your Heart:

It was a little less expensive, so I picked it up. I tasted a few shreds by themselves after I got home, and they were a little "eh," but I thought it might be better once cooked.

Have I also mentioned that I don't like melted cheese? But again, I thought I could get over my dislike if it weren't real cheese, and I thought the bf might like it, too (because I'm the main "cook" in our household, he is subjected to all of my dietary preferences, none of which he would normally keep as part of his own diet). But neither of those things proved true.

Although it looked delicious once plated, the first bite offended my tongue so much that I couldn't eat anymore of it. I told Tim not to eat anymore, as if it were poisoned, and then I quickly boiled some snap peas that I'd just happened to pick up earlier that evening, then seasoned them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and they were perfection.

I suspect there were more elements to the gourde gross-out: (1) I had pre-seasoned squash slices and baking pan with olive oil and spices, forgetting that I was later going to add cheese, which added to the overly slimy texture; (2) I'm not sure the squash was quite right--the rind (or whatever) was starting to darken and turn hard--even though I'd just bought it a few days prior.

On the bright side, the rice and lentils turned out wonderfully. And I even had leftovers for lunch today. I think that was my first time cooking lentils. I had always dreaded it, because I thought I needed to soak them beforehand, but then I read that lentils don't require pre-soaking like beans do. They took about 30 minutes to cook on medium/high heat.

It may be a while before I try to cook with non-cheese again. But at least I got over my fear of cooking lentils!


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