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.
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.