Eat This Not That: Meet Cheesorizo®, a vegetarian, all natural and GMO, gluten, grain, and soy free wunderkind that will have you swapping out red meat, textured soy protein and chicken in no time. This must-try find is from a naturally sustaining artisan dairy in Oregon, created by an entrepreneurial family who are vegetarian. This original meat-free cheese sausage tastes and cooks up just like meat sausage. It’s 100% addictive and you will have to order it direct if you live outside of Oregon – the links are provided below.
Pholia Farm is an off-the-grid family farm in Rogue River, Oregon, and it is an artisan creamery gem that’s home to happy Nigerian Dwarf Goats, whose milk produces aged, raw milk cheeses. Owned by Vern and Gianaclis Caldwell and co-managed by their daughters Phoebe and Amelia (from which the name Pholia originates), their Farm occupies about 24 acres in rural southern Oregon.
The Caldwell family uses the milk of their small herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats to produce exceptional aged cheese. Gianaclis, an educator and author, and her husband Vern, a retired Marine, both switched gears to the cheesemaking life are not only dairy farmers but have created a haven for the fine arts too.
Gianaclis, a mixed media artist and author of several books on small dairy and cheesemaking, is a consultant and teacher. Gia, as she is also known, creates both large and small installation type works, usually containing a message. Often working with public school children, under-served by the visual arts, to both inspire and be inspired, she creates works using the children’s imagery, thoughts, and bodies interpreted, remade, and augmented with her own unique style.
Gia is also a long-time vegetarian who had been been craving a spicy, savory, satisfying, sausage-like food to enjoy with eggs, on salads, and in tacos. With a gluten intolerance, she tried every type of soy chorizo brand, but they fell short in taste and didn’t cook to her liking. A tasty idea was born one night after thinking the problem through.
Her invention, Cheesorizo® starts with cheese. Gia’s home state of Oregon is home to wonderful local whole goat and cow’s milk, rBST free of course, which is also handcrafted into soft, fresh cheese. She made it in three distinct flavors using only the best quality herbs and spices and packaged it into perfect sized chub casings.
Because of the way Cheesorizo® is made, it will not melt, but instead can be sautéed, fried, baked, and used in countless, versatile ways to zazz up and replace meat in so many of your favorite dishes. Being naturally lower in fat than meat and without any binders or additives, it crumbles when cooked. You can make “meatballs” or patties by adding an egg and bread crumbs or oats to create what you need. Meat sausages are made using a lot of fat from the animal, but Cheesorizo® uses only the small amount of fat in the milk so when you cook it, it fluffs up and doesn’t shrink – you will need to add just a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking to the pan.
Cheesorizo® is naturally higher in protein than many fresh soft cheeses and most meat sausages – and much lower in fat than the meat versions – and of course, being made from milk, it is high in calcium too. Nutritional yeast – a natural, deactivated yeast – is also included and not only very flavorful, but is also high in B vitamins, making it very appealing for vegetarians as well as anyone who is health conscious.
Gia perfected her original Cheesorizo® recipe over many months and after many experiments with spices and flavors and taste tests with family and friends. Soon new flavors were born and recipes followed.
Gia’s original inspiration flavor, Fiesta is inspired by fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, a delicious ancho chili powder made from dried poblano peppers delivers a distinctive, complex, and robust flavor, added to that are smoked paprika, oregano, and other classic Mexican spices. Use Fiesta in place of ground beef, chorizo, or in any dish that needs a south of the border kick. We used this blend for our vegetarian nachos and threw on some roasted cauliflower and jalapeno rings with a side of fresh avocado guacamole for a complete meal.
While cooking brings out the best in this cheese sausage by caramelizing the milk sugars and giving it a great, meaty texture, you can use Cheesorizo® straight from the casing as a spread, crumbled into a wrap, or however you wish. Personally I like cooking it like ground beef or turkey, texturally it worked better for me this way. Use a cast iron pan (if you have one) and olive oil as your fat to get optimal results.
The Haul’s Butternut Squash and Cheesorizo Tacos with Pickled Onion and Aioli
Executive chef Chad Hahn from The Haul Cafe and Provisions, Grants Pass, Oregon provided this delicious recipe. Visit them on Facebook – The Haul Grants Pass
- 2 pounds butternut squash (medium dice)
- 1 cup black beans
- 1/2 c Fiesta Cheesorizo
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cup of red wine vinegar
- 1 pound shredded cabbage
- 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
- 1 TBS ground cumin
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 c + 1tbs c oil
- 1 teas mustard powder
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 TBS minced garlic
- 8 small corn tortillas
- Salt and Pepper
For Taco Filling
Dice Butternut toss in oil salt and pepper and roast on a sheet tray in 375 degree oven till tender.
In pan with oil heat together roasted squash, black beans, and Cheesorizo. Then add 1 TBS garlic. Saute until fragrant.
Add salt and pepper to taste
To Make Aioli
In a food processor blend lemon juice, mustard and egg yolk. Slowly stream in 1 cup of oil until emulsified and the aoili thickens.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust acidity if needed with more lemon juice.
Quick Pickled Red Onions
Heat red wine vinegar. Pour over small diced red onions.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Cool.
Combine shredded cabbage with cider vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss. Let rest for at least one hour.
Combine slaw, aioli, and taco filling on lightly toasted corn tortillas. Top with red onions and Cheesorizo
Spaghetti with meatballs and sausage topped pizza were Gia’s muses for delicious Italian flavor Cheesorizo®. She chose the finest Mediterranean basil, oregano, and roasted garlic for seasonings, making it delicious in many dishes and appetizers.
Crimini Mushroom Caps Stuffed with Cheesorizo®
- 12-24 button or cremini mushroom caps
- 1 chub Italian or Maple Sage Cheesorizo®
- TB red wine
- 2 TB olive oil
- Fresh basil or sage chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Wash mushrooms and remove caps
- Crumble Cheesorizo® into bowl and mix in wine and 1 TB olive oil, mix well
- Fill each mushroom cap with a well rounded teaspoon of cheese-sausage mixture
- Brush baking pan or cookie sheet with 1 TB olive oil
- Arrange on oiled pan and bake in oven until mushrooms are tender, about 20-30 minutes
Maple Sage Cheesorizo®
For this country style cheese sausage, Gia uses rubbed sage and real maple extra along with roasted garlic and other tasty spices to create a versatile flavor combination. Try Maple Sage Cheesorizo® in everything from breakfast patties to the ultimate vegetarian Thanksgiving stuffing.
Once opened, Cheesorizo® should be used within a week, but will keep unopened for up to four weeks. It freezes well and can be kept frozen for many months before use. Defrost in the refrigerator.