Today, friends, I’m sharing two techniques that are semi-essential to raw food meals:
1. Making nut pates
2. Making collard wraps
Nut pates are one of the first raw recipes I learned. They’re quick, delicious, and oh-so-versatile: you can use them in everything from wraps to sandwiches to salads to vegetable napoleons. They’re also a fun alternative to other soft spreads, like hummus, cream cheese, or refried beans.
What’s the difference between a nut pate and a nut cheese? Not much, except for consistency. I think of thicker mixtures as pates; when you add more water (and make them softer), I think they begin to resemble cream cheese or even soft goat’s cheese.
You can adjust the flavors of these concoctions so that they mimic traditional recipes (I make a mushroom pate, for example, with soaked walnuts and spiced with thyme, that tastes a lot like the classic mushroom pate you might find as an appetizer at a dinner party; I also make a pine nut “ricotta”).
The basic idea is this: you soak a cup or two of nuts (1-2 hours for cashews, and overnight for almonds), throw them in a food processor with about 1/2 tsp salt per cup nuts, and grind them till they’re in a pulp form. Then scrape the sides of the bowl and drizzle water in until the mix comes together and becomes smooth; if you’re looking for a chunkier mix, don’t process for too long. It’s a lot like making hummus in a food processor, and just as fast!
When I make nut cheeses, I always add lemon for a hint of tartness. I also add herbs, sun dried tomatoes, dill, black pepper, or whatever other kinds of mix-ins I’m in the mood for.
Tonight’s cheese recipe was one of my all time favorites: cashew ricotta with sun dried tomatoes and basil–AKA, raw pizza cheese! (It was Melissa who first noted that this cheese tastes a lot like pizza on a spoon.) This cheese is delicious, easy, and can be served in so many ways: stacked between layers of tomatoes and basil in a “napoleon,” in wraps as shown, or on top of zucchini pasta.
|Raw, Vegan "Pizza Cheese"|| |
- 1 cup (115 g) raw cashews, soaked for two hours or more and then drained of soak water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons light miso
- ¼ cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes (either soft, dry and rehydrated with hot water, or oil packed and drained)
- ¼ cup basil
- Place the nuts into a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse a few times to break the nuts down. Add the salt, lemon, and miso.
- With the motor of the processor running, drizzle in about ⅓ cup water. You're aiming for the mixture to be smooth and spreadable–similar to a ricotta cheese. If you need more water, you can add it by the tablespoon until you have a consistency that you like. You can also stop a few times while processing the cashews to scrape the food processor sides down with a spatula.
- Once the cheese has a consistency that's just right, taste it and add black pepper to taste, as well as extra salt if you'd like. Add the tomatoes and basil and pulse the whole mixture until they're well incorporated. Serve.
You may recall my 8 simple swaps post, where I suggested swapping collard leaves for regular old wraps in raw food dishes. Collard wraps are a light, healthy, and creative alternative to your usual wraps or tortillas. A few of you emailed me after that post and asked how, exactly, you make collard wraps work. Here’s my trick.
Step one: de-vein the collard leave by slicing off the bottom of the stalk in a V formation and running your knife over the rest of the stalk to flatten the leaf, like so:
Step two: layer your cheese, pate, hummus, or other filling inside (I used about ¼ cup of the cheese), then pile veggies on top (here I used tomato, carrot, and some basil to complement the Italian flavor):
Step three: fold the bottom and top over the filling:
Step four: fold the sides over, wrap, and roll!
Chop off the tops on a diagonal if you want to look particularly fancy.
Of course you can use this technique for just about any kind of filling. But the pizza cheese is a really good place to start 🙂
I really hope you’ll all begin experimenting, not only with collard wraps, but with all sorts of nut pates. Let me know what you create! And have a happy Friday, all.