Earlier this year Tesco brought out a new dairy-free range of products that included milks, yogurts, desserts and cheeses. The products were initially offered in only a few stores but they are now appearing in more of them, including my local one. I have tried a couple of dairy-free cheeses before and wasn't impressed with either of them, so I was quite keen to try Tesco's version as I have heard good reviews. There was a choice of a mild or a medium cheddar style soya cheese; I chose the medium one.
The cheese is quite firm but as with other dairy-free cheeses it is soft when you cut/grate it. I have to say that this cheese did not have a very appetising smell! I tried a bit straight from the pack, it tasted ok, not exactly like dairy cheese but not like plastic either. My boyfriend's mum tried a bit and said it was alright but it was sweeter than dairy cheese (although not necessarily a bad thing as she finds a lot of cheeses too salty).
I decided to try it out in a simple pasta bake that I made for myself and Jamie. I cheated and used a jar of a Tesco tomato sauce for quickness, mixed it with some pasta and sprinkled some grated cheese on top.
I was impressed with how well the cheese melted; it even started to go crispy and brown like dairy cheese does, and I thought it tasted quite real too. Initially Jamie was not keen on the taste of the cheese (he is an omni) but the more of the pasta bake he ate, the more he liked it and he said he would eat it again. We wanted to make enchiladas but couldn't find any vegan chicken-style pieces in Tesco, but we will try them out soon.
The next thing I made was another pasta bake, with another vegan product I was eager to try: Redwood's Tuna Style Pate (was going to do a separate post on it but I only tried it once so will include it in this one).
I tasted a bit of the pate as it was. It was quite nice, but I only got a hint of fishy flavour, although I guess this is not a bad thing depending on how authentic you like your mock meats to be. It smelled quite like real tuna though. My mum tried it and she said it was quite nice; I asked her if it tasted like real tuna as it has been so long since I've had it I don't remember exactly what it's like, she said it tasted more like meat pate. My favourite meal used to be tuna pasta bake so I wanted to see if I could make a good vegan version. I followed this recipe and substituted the margarine, milk and cheese with vegan versions, and of course, the tuna style pate.
I made this for Mum and I and we both quite liked it. Whilst it did not taste exactly like I remember tuna pasta bake to be, it was still a nice meal and very filling. The pate was ok but I think it disintegrated a little during cooking (although I tend to overcook everything!). The cheese topping was nice as with the other pasta bake I made, and Mum said she liked it. I did think the dish was a little bland; I did add some of the cheese to the white sauce but maybe I should've added more. I would also add some nutritional yeast to the sauce next time as I hear it has a very cheesy taste! I also forgot to season this dish so maybe that didn't help either...I would make this again though; I think with a little tweaking it could be a really nice meal! I'd also like to try some more recipes with the tuna pate.
The final thing I made with the cheese was a batch of good old cheese straws. I mixed the remainder of my cheese with 25g vegan margarine, 50g plain flour, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, and brought the mixture together in a dough by adding a little soya milk. I rolled the dough out and cut out little rectangles and baked until golden.
These were so good! They tasted exactly like real cheese straws, I was really impressed with the cheese in this instance. Mum really liked them too, and they didn't last long!
Overall I thought Tesco's dairy-free cheese was a really good, versatile product. I will definitely be buying more, and I am going to try the mild version too. Why not see if this cheese is stocked in your local Tesco and give it a try?