The day I discovered raw food cuisine, my entire body filled up with passion and excitement. The beauty and creativity of utilizing Mother Nature's raw gifts to create elegant, gourmet, unique dishes had me utterly fascinated.
Now, I did not turn into a raw foodist because of this, but rather started viewing raw foods cuisine as an artist would, using fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds as her medium. The vibrant colors of oddly shaped heirloom tomatoes, fresh figs, rainbow chard, or dazzling limes are nature's artistic palette designed for me to create exquisite, delicious works of art.
Gently chopping a handful of garden fresh herbs allows their aromas to be released filling my lungs with their potent and intense smells. Parsley, tarragon, basil, rosemary and thyme, oh my! The culmination of this sensory explosion ends in my taste buds screaming for joy at the pleasure of this live food artistic creation.
Vegan food + creativity = my heaven!!!!
My first experimentation with raw foods cuisine was to make a nut cheese. I was inspired to do this for two reasons...for my inquisitive mind to know what a cheese made out of nuts would taste like and because I know many people who are lactose intolerant and would love to indulge in a cheese like food.
I went to the store, bought some almonds and cheesecloth and decided to experiment. In my research of raw cheeses I learned that many of the specialty vegan cheeses are made with a fermented product known as rejuvalac, but my cheese was not. I went the easy route and was quite pleased with the outcome. If you do want to get fancy, try checking out recipes using rejuvalac and you will be amazed at what types of vegan cheeses you can create.
My first try with nut cheese involved a three day process. The first day I let the nuts soak in a bowl of water overnight. The second day I drained the nuts then placed them in a blender with oil and spices. The result was a pureed nut blend which I wrapped up tightly in cheesecloth and let sit in a bowl overnight to drain. The next day the cheese was drier and similar to a goat cheese consistency. It was delish!!!
My taste testers and I ate it like you would a goat cheese with crackers, but also tried it as a baked topping on stuffed tomatoes. It tasted amazing and eerily like cheese! Of course this way is not raw, but it is still a great alternative to dairy cheese.
Here is my recipe, but as I always say... experiment, have fun, and don't worry about messing it up because this is meant to be an enjoyable and delicious experience. You can add more or less herbs to taste.
Italian Spreadable Nut Cheese
1 cup whole blanched (skins removed) almonds
3 Tablespoons cold pressed olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove of peeled garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh basil
1.5 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh parsley
1.) Place almonds in a bowl, cover fully with water, and let soak overnight. Drain, rinse, and drain again.
2.) Place almonds, oil, lemon juice, garlic, and spices in a high speed blender and puree until a smooth creamy paste forms (about 5 minutes). Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
3.) You can eat this as is by shaping it into a round or rolling it into a log. You may drizzle more oil and sprinkle more herbs over it, or use it in raw foods creations such as rawsagana or rawvioli's. Or you can forget the raw thing and bake it alone or in dishes. If you want to get more liquid out and make it drier without baking then place mixture into a triple layer of cheesecloth. Tie up into a ball and place over a bowl. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to drain. The next day discard remaining liquid, remove from cheesecloth and place on a serving platter either in a round or roll up in wax paper to make it resemble a goat cheese log.
Add different herbs or no herbs at all if you want. You may also add water to the first stage of blending but then you will definitely have to place the puree in a cheesecloth to drain overnight. Experiment to see what consistency you would like and what flavors you enjoy the most.
Have fun with this amazing culinary art of creating dishes with raw foods. Experience the RAWvolution and enjoy!!!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.