Flaky Pizza Purses and Sheese

Flaky Pizza Purses

A while back I mentioned that I had found a vegan cheese that was pretty damn good. I’ve spent some time playing around with it, and I finally have a post ready for you all.

I don’t often use vegan cheese. Vegan cheese usually sucks, and I’ve found that the longer I’m vegan (just over four years now), the less I want to eat things similar to cheese (or any other non-vegan product). Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s not good every once in a while. But I don’t feel like I need it anymore. I don’t require it to be satisfied, which is a great thing.

But I’m always interested in new vegan cheeses. When I first went vegan I bought all the different brands I could find and taste-tested them. I was very disappointed. I coudn’t believe that no one could come up with a better vegan cheese. Sure, it’s definitely possible to develop a taste for some of the products out there, but they don’t win you over on the first bite. And they’d never, ever fool someone.

So when Scott from Black Duck Imports contacted me to ask if I’d like to try some Sheese vegan cheese, I was definitely curious. Surely someone, somewhere, had made some improvements on the vegan cheese front. I told him I’d be happy to try it, but I wasn’t going to mention a peep about it on the blog unless I really liked it.

And I really like it.

Medium Cheddar Sheese

The taste, especially in their various cheddars, is great. The texture is perfect for grating, shaving, or slicing. It doesn’t feel oily or wet like some other cheeses out there. It’s very flavorful, so you don’t need a lot to flavor a dish.

The downsides? It doesn’t really melt, so it’s better mixed into something than on top of something. It comes in a wide variety of flavors, but the cheddars taste the best to me; the mozzarella is fine but it doesn’t taste like mozzarella, and I downright disliked the gouda. My favorite is the smoked cheddar. I often use a vegetable peeler to shave some off onto pasta.

Rigatoni with Rosemary, Black Pepper, and Smoked Cheddar Sheese

So now to the recipe. When I think I cheese I usually think pizza (a side effect of growing up in Chicago, the land of perfect pizza pie), but since sheese wouldn’t really melt all that well, I had to come up with an alternate plan. Then it hit me: if you use phyllo, you can easily put the cheese inside the pizza. Like so:

Flaky Pizza Purse

This dish makes a perfect starter, and besides the little bit of stress phyllo causes, it’s really easy.

Plyllo DoughSpecial notes for phyllo dough: Located in the freezer section of your grocery store. Keep frozen, placing unopened package in the refrigerator the night before to defrost. Do not defrost at room temperature. Once defrosted, move dough from refrigerator to counter two hours before use. Keep any opened dough covered with a damp kitchen towel and/or plastic wrap to prevent drying. Re-wrap unused portion immediately and refrigerate for 1 week, or refreeze.

Flaky Pizza Purses
Makes 6 Starters

1 Recipe 6 Minute Tomato Sauce (below)
5 Sheets Phyllo Dough
1/4 to 1/2 Wheel of Sheese, any flavor, shredded
Fresh Basil Leaves
5 Tbs Melted Earth Balance Margarine

Six Minute Tomato Sauce
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Pint Sweet Grape Tomatoes
1/4 tsp Salt (more to taste, if desired)
1/2 tsp Dried Italian Herbs

Begin by making the tomato sauce. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan and add tomatoes. Toss in oil and cook until tomatoes begin to soften and burst. Add salt and herbs. You can help the tomatoes along by popping them with the tip of a knife as they expand. Gently mash the tomatoes, but not enough to loose their basic shape. Total cooking time approximately six minutes until the sauce is ready to go. Set aside.

Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Get your work station ready with everything you’ll need (photo) to make the purses. You’ll need a large area to spread the dough out on, tomato sauce, shredded sheese, basil, melted earth balance, a brush, and a damp kitchen towel/plastic wrap.

You’ll want to open the dough, unroll it, remove 5 sheets, cover the 5 sheets, re-roll and re-package the remaining dough….all as fast as you possibly can.


Once the leftover dough as been put away, you’ll begin brushing and stacking each of the five sheets. Always re-cover the sheets you’re not currently working with, or else they’ll dry out.

Remove one sheet from the stack of five and lay it out in front of you. Brush with melted Earth Balance, starting at the edges and working in to the center (the edges will dry out the fastest, this prevents that). If you get some rips or tears, don’t worry–it won’t be noticeable by the time you’re done. Just repair them as best you can and move on.

Brushing the Phyllo Dough

Once covered in Earth Balance, place the second sheet on top. Brush. Repeat this process until all 5 phyllo sheets have been stacked and brushed. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into six squares (one cut lengthwise, two cuts widthwise).

Cutting the Phyllo Dough

Now you can relax. The dough won’t dry out so quick now that it’s coated in Earth Balance. Place 1/6 of the sauce in the middle of each square. The add cheese and a few basil leaves. I left mine whole because I’m lazy, but you can chop yours up if you want.


Gather the edges of the squares into the center, twisting to seal and form a purse. Place the completed purses on a baking sheet.

Forming the purses

Give the purses one final brush of Earth Balance before going in the oven.

Brushing the purses

Bake for 10-15 minutes (I did 15) until the purses turn golden brown along the edges and the body feels cooked and flaky. Top with fresh basil leaves and serve warm.

Click here for more information on where to purchase Sheese. I usually purchase it online through Vegan Essentials. I hope you like it as much as I do! And hey, if you’re looking for a mozzarella that really melts, check out the newest vegan cheese on the block, Teese. I had it on a pizza in Seattle and it was great!

Flaky Pizza Purses


  1. VeggieGirl

    I’m the same way – the longer I’m a vegan, the less I want to eat foods that try to imitate meat, dairy, etc. – I’d rather stick to whole, natural foods, thank you!! :0)

    Those flaky pizza purses are positively gorgeous – so cute!!

  2. daphne

    i’ve been vegan for four years too and i feel the same about cheese. i used to be completely obsessed with the stuff and now dairy cheese repels me and the vegan stuff seems generally pointless. still, i try to get my hands on new varieties of vegan cheese just to prove that decent ones can be made.

    i have to agree that the cheddar varieties of sheese are good, especially the chives, smoked and medium flavours. for mozzarella i really like the extra melting cheezly, if you can find it.

    the sheesy pizza pockets look adorable! they remind me of pizza boreks (a fairly common fusion snack in areas that used to belong to the ottoman empire) but in a much tastier version :)

  3. Gnewvegan

    I feel the same as you and the readers. I am Italian so of course I liked cheese, but only melted. I never liked a piece of cheese. I have been vegan since oct. 07 and I also find myself hardly using the vegan cheeses.. And sometimes being turned off if it is too much cheese on something. I do like the vegan parmesan though. I also use nutritional yeast. But, for things like pizza I have not yet found a vegan cheese I am completely satisfied with as far as melting.. Do you know of a cheese that melts and is not rubbery… For example, a while back I made a pasta dish with the cheese and baked it and I found the cheese came out too rubbery and shiny.

  4. creaturetalk

    A friend recommended your blog to me and I love it. Amazing pictures and recipes! These look fantastic. I haven’t been vegan for very long, so I’m kind of staying away from fake cheeses right now because I hear the longer you’ve gone without, the better the fake stuff tastes later….however, now I”m intrigued. I might have to check this out!

  5. Elaine

    I feel the same way too! Even though I was never a fan of fake cheese I felt compelled to try each brand.

    I also prefer the smoked cheddar sheese also. And I agree with you, the gouda tastes like playdough.

  6. Sheltie Girl

    I’m always on the look out for new dairy free cheeses to try. Unfortunately, most seemed to be made from soy and I don’t tolerate soy well.

    Beautiful pictures.

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  7. Lovliebutterfly

    They look so good! They would still be perfect even without the cheese. I also almost never use vegan cheese and I don’t miss it.

    I was looking for some ideas about what to make for my boyfriend’s birthday that’s coming up this week. I might give these a try.

  8. Crazy Vegan Mom

    I tried Sheese at the Boston Vegetarian Festival and agree, some flavors are good, others not so much.
    For melting cheese, try Teese. It is new and melts great, I use it on my pizza. It is made in Chicago by Chicago Soydairy and was originally made specifically for pizzaria’s, so it is a melty, mozzerella flavor “cheese”.

  9. shanniecakes

    vegan cheese usually turns my stomach– yet i always buy it attempting to find a recipe it works in. i have 2 pounds of mozzerella teese in my fridge and it’s impressed even non-vegans on pizza. these pizza pockets look incredible as appetizers or little meals!

  10. Lisa (Show Me Vegan)

    thanks for the review of both brands. I’ve been disappointed so far with all vegan cheeses I’ve tried, but I tend to be an optimist so I’ll try these as well! And this is a beautiful, elegant dish.

  11. shanniecakes

    so i just made these– YUM we used mozz. teese and whole wheat fillo… i also had some problem with the bottoms breaking while i transfering to the cookie sheet… but yum delish.

  12. spaceJASE

    The photos of your food and process are great! The saturation really makes everything so appetizing! Sheeze is still too expensive for my blood.

  13. almostfamous

    I tried one of the Sheese spreads a while back and really disliked it, so it put me off trying the rest of their range, but I might try their solid ones based on this. I have to echo daphne’s comments about extra melting Cheezly though, it makes great vegan pizza (and as a fall back, although it doesn’t melt, I think their garlic and herb variety tastes good on pizza too).
    Oh, and I will have to try and track down Teese in the UK now after all these recommendations.

  14. la fille en rose

    this looks so delicious…is sheese available everywhere or does it need to be ordered? hope to try this recipe soon!

    It’s only available certain places, but I think Whole Foods is going to start carrying it soon. I’d check the link and see if it’s available near you, otherwise you can definitely order it online. Both links (stores and online) are up in the entry. :)

  15. susie

    I have 4 kids, and I think they would absolutely love these. After I attempt (I’m not savvy in the kitchen) to make these, I’ll give you an update. I love this site! You rock! And I am also a lover/freak of miniture things!

  16. NICKO

    i go to a market called WESTSIDE MARKET in manhattan that has a soy cheese in their gourmet cheese section…now as far as i can tell by the ingredients listed the mozzarella is the only one thats vegan….i dont like it plain but i use it on my pizza and it melts great! ive asked the guys behind the counter and they informed me that it doesnt contain any dairy but i cant get any paperwork except for the ingredients on the wrap…hope they arent fucking with me…

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  18. Russ

    I quite like the taste/texture of the scheese, but I don’t consider it to be a replacement to regular cheese. Just a new type of food to experiment with. I don’t think it will be fooling any cheese lovers though, and am fairly sure that no one will ever come up with a true cheese replacement!
    Those sure do look yummy though!

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  20. babyvegan1

    Your blog is the greatest, i was tired of seeing unappetizing recipes for the vegan world. These pictures would even make my carnivore friend’s mouth water. I’ve only been vegan for about a year now, this blog confirms it’s such the way to go

  21. louise gray

    love your website. bookmarked it. checked out the vegan scones with clotted cream. getting ready for breakfast at wimbledon on 7/6/08. let me say about vegan cheese- it just plain sucks. there are great meat substitutes. when i have carnivore guests, they don’t know the difference. my dog won’t even eat the vegan cheese. now this new cheese that you mention, i have heard about, but i have not tried it yet. the biggest negative about this product is the $8.99 pricetag. i see at my local food co-op. if they give samples and i liked it, i might buy. you would think that with all the food technology available that someone would come up with a great cheese imitator. I am vegan but i miss my cheese!!!!!

  22. Heather

    These pizza purses themselves aren’t vegan, are they? I thought phyllo had egg in it…

    Yup, they’re vegan! I wouldn’t use them if they weren’t :)

  23. Kristie

    Made this tonight for dinner. Mine weren’t nearly as pretty, but they sure did taste awesome. It’s another one for the recipe box. Thank you!

  24. Catherine

    I am have decided to go vegan recently due to food allergy test results. I am a personal chef in Chicago and love cooking! What are some good vegan cookbooks? I have Skinny Bitch and the recipes seem easy enough, but there have to be others with easy recipes.

  25. Robin

    I agree with Louise Gray–I miss my cheese! I am not vegan but rather have been diagnosed with a dairy allergy. Not sure if I would have found the “dairy depravation” easier if I had chosen to become vegan rather than being thrust into making these choices. I have not tried the Sheese (yet), though I have tried the Teese. Eating it plain I found it had only a very faint soy taste, but it was very…”buttery” is the only word I can come up with. Not really mozzarella like, but not “gag” worthy either. Not too bad on pizza. I will try the Sheese in the hopes that I can occasionally have some mac and “cheese”!

    I would also like to say this is a great site! Though this is the first time I have left a comment, I have come here often and find it informative and interesting! Thanks!

  26. Anne

    This looks delicious! Although as someone who grew up just outside of New Haven,CT, I take issue with your statement that Chicago is the land of the perfect pizza pie! ;)

  27. ula

    question: can they be made ahead of time? I’m planning a small party of about 15 guests. i wanted toknow if i can make them 2-3 hrs ahead of serving? Maybe bake them 1/2 way & stick them back in? would that work out?

    None of them are vegan or vegetarian lol, but its my party & i’ll serve what i want to!

    PLEASE help!

  28. Jill

    my local whole foods just started carrying sheese…I got the mozzeralla I just tried it melted with tomato sauce on a pita…I too have a dairy allergy…I miss mac and cheese and pizza. I like follow your heart soy cheese also…I have learned to make a good mac and cheese with it. I will try some of the other flavors of sheese it seems to melt well. I will also try the pizza purses they look good.

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