Category Archives: Appetizers & Sides

Summer Succotash Salad & Peas Vs. Lima Beans

Summer Succotash Salad

As my caloric needs have gone up with more intense workouts, I’ve been experimenting with different food sources that can offer greater nutritional density per serving size. I’ve also been experimenting with eliminating protein powder from my daily regimen, in favor of a purely whole food approach.

PeasI noticed that pea protein seemed to be pretty popular as a supplement, so I set out to investigate the humble pea. I wanted to see what all the commotion was about, and also compare it to some other similar vegetables, to see if there was room for improvement.

My focus was on a few key areas:

  • Can I get a greater caloric value in the same volume of food? On a whole food plant based diet with a daily intake of 3,000+ calories, this becomes very important because plant food is very bulky, and sometimes the sheer volume of food that I have to eat can become uncomfortable if I am not making the right choices. 
  • Can I increase my fiber intake? I am a big fan of fiber. The more, the better. Various types of fibers and starches feed our microbiome. The more we eat, the healthier our gut flora is. Jeff Leach, Founder of the Human Food Project talks in depth about the eating habits of the Hadza, one of the few hunter-gather tribes left on the planet; their daily fiber intake is 75-100g, which is 7 times what the average American eats. I aim for 100g a day. 
  • Can I improve the omega fatty acid ratio? A healthy dietary omega fatty acid ratio is very important not only for overall good health, but for dropping fat and building muscle because a healthy ratio increases insulin sensitivity, reduces inflammation, and supports a healthy metabolism by protecting the liver.
  • Can I improve my intake of nutrients that are harder to come by on a plant-based diet, such as iron and selenium?

After a little searching, I found a viable candidate: the mighty lima bean! I put them side-by-side in this cute little infographic to illustrate the factors in my decision to eat more lima beans!

Peas Vs Lima Beans

Naturally, after I came upon this, I had to put some lima bean recipes together. Since it is summer time, I decided on a light succotash recipe with fresh herbs from my garden and bell peppers, which are in peak season right now. 

Please enjoy. πŸ™‚

Summer Succotash Salad
Serves 4
This summer succotash salad is simple and quick to make, and full of plant-based protein. It is rich with texture and flavor, yet light without overpowering. It is a delightful dish to serve as a side at a summer picnic or gathering.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups lima beans, thawed from frozen
  2. 2 cups organic corn, thawed from frozen (best option to find organic non-gmo)
  3. 1 red or orange bell pepper, small dice
  4. 4 scallions, chopped
  5. 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (I used purple since that's what I'm growing)
  6. 2 TB spearmint, finely chopped
  7. 3 TB fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  9. couple pinches sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and allow to marinade in the refrigerator overnight for the best flavor.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 15

raw vegan nut cheese plate

I am very late in writing up the synopsis for the rest of my Advanced Raw Cuisine course, but here it is, better late than never… Day 15!

Day 15 marked the end of pastry week! The finished chocolate bonbons were presented today. We also started prep work for one final pastry recipe that will be completed as part of week 4, and everything came together for the final cheese plate as well. It was beautiful when everything was laid out.

Here are some red pears in the vacuum sealed bag. They are marinading in a sauce that will make them both flavorful and soft. It contains some agave, lemon juice, and spices. The texture was wonderful. The apple slices were pliable and soft, just as if they’d been poached! These are for a chocolate walnut cake that will be ready as part of week 4. 

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These are some candied fennel seed in the making. Fennel seeds tossed with a little maple syrup and put into the dehydrator to get crispy! They will also be used for the walnut cake dessert. 

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Here are the final nut cheeses after aging in the fridge for over a month! The course is only 4 weeks, but since I was working on a longer 8 week track, I had the opportunity to age mine longer. The texture was wonderful. They were soft and creamy, definitely more “cheese-like”. The flavors were so mature. It was really worth the time to let this happen. I also put some of them into the dehydrator for about 24 hours to put a bit of a “rind” on them. 

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I present to you… the finished cheese plate! This has my nut cheeses, some homemade mustard, a raw bread loaf, some raw crackers, a few slices of cucumber and pear, and a few drops of a balsamic vinegar reduction. It was so good!

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The last thing that was finished on this day was a batch of chocolate bon bons! We learned how to temper chocolate and made these wonderful filled candies. There is a green tea and honey filling in the center. 

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Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 13

raw vegan linzer cookies

Day 13 of advanced raw cuisine is completed! The day started off with my old friend, the Irish moss seaweed. It has to soak for a few hours so I can make some more Irish moss paste to use in a dessert recipe that is coming up!

irish moss soaking

After the seaweed was put in some water to soak, it was time to learn about mustards, chutneys, and reductions. We were given some guidelines and allowed to make our own mustard and chutney variations to be set aside as candidates for our cheese plates later in the week. We also made balsamic vinegar reductions in the dehydrator that we will be using in the caprese salad plating on day 16!

Recipes for both the mustard and the chutney are included at the bottom of this entry!

The mustard I made is a spicy yellow curry honey mustard. I was very pleased with the way it turned out. My husband has been putting it on his sandwiches. πŸ™‚ 

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The chutney I made is a spicy pineapple chutney with some dried apricot and a little fresh mint. It was both refreshing and potently spicy at the same time… a real sinus clearer… my kind of food! 

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This is the easiest balsamic vinegar reduction I have ever made! I didn’t have to worry about watching anything on the stove, or checking temperatures, or making sure anything wasn’t burning! I just put the glass bowl of balsamic vinegar into the dehydrator to let some moisture evaporate off, and after a few hours, I was left with a beautiful balsamic vinegar syrup. 

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As a bonus, we also learned how to make homemade vanilla extract. It is really simple. I can’t believe I’ve never done this before. I took herbalism classes years ago, and it is literally just a vanilla bean tincture. Pour some vodka over the plant matter and let it hang out in a dark place for 4-6 weeks. Voila!

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The other fun thing we got to do today was to assemble the linzer cookies! After making and dehydrating the cookie shapes yesterday, and making the jam, everything was ready. I spread a bit of the raspberry jam between the layers and had a lot of fun taking photos of them. I nibbled a little, but to be honest, my husband was the one who got to eat most of them. They have an almond flour base, and eating too much almond sets off my allergies, so I had to give them up. They turned out to be quite beautiful though!

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After making the liner cookies, we started a cracker recipe, so that we would have some crispy components to add to our cheese plates. I added some garlic and black sesame seeds to give them a more pungent flavor and a nice visual appearance. I really love how they turned out!

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After setting the crackers up in the dehydrator, I blended the Irish moss into a paste and then day 13 was all wrapped up! I’m so ready to go for chocolate making on day 14!!!

Spicy Yellow Curry Honey Mustard
This spicy yellow curry honey mustard blends the exotic and the familiar and a unique flavor combination that is great spread on breads, crackers, sandwiches, etc. If you like spicy food, you will love this mustard recipe!
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 TB yellow mustard seed, soaked in cold water for 10 min (use warm water for less spice)
  2. 2 TB yellow mustard seed, unsoaked
  3. 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  4. 1/4 cup fermented coconut water (or use a dry white wine)
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 TB yellow curry powder
  7. 2 TB raw honey
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth and well incorporated.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/
Spicy Pineapple Apricot Chutney
This chutney blends tropical fruit and spicy flavors with fresh elements of mint and basil. It is sure to clear both your palate and your sinuses. πŸ˜‰
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Food Processor ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  2. 2 TB chopped apricot (appx 5 apricots)
  3. 1/4 thai chili, seeded (omit this if you don't want it to be spicy)
  4. 1 TB lime juice
  5. 1/4 tsp of salt
Chopped and folded-in ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  2. 2 TB chopped spearmint
  3. 1 TB chopped basil
Instructions
  1. Blend the "food processor ingredients" in a food processor until well incorporated, but still a little chunky.
  2. Transfer blended ingredients to a bowl and fold in the remaining chopped pineapple and fresh herbs.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Mushroom Taco Lettuce Wraps (Raw Vegan)

mushroom taco lettuce cups

I’m still working on the recap of the second half of my advanced raw cuisine class, but until I have all of the blog posts up, I still have to feed myself and my husband, so that leaves a lot of room for experimentation. These mushroom taco lettuce wraps are what I put together for dinner tonight, and there was enough leftover to have for lunch tomorrow too. For tomorrow’s lunch, I’ll be chopping up some romaine and taking the leftovers as a taco salad. =D

mushroom taco lettuce cups

I took a vacation immediately following the completion of my culinary classes, and returned with a strong desire to go back to my low fat lifestyle after 4 months of culinary classes and a vacation that was vegan, but contained far too much fat. I went on a cruise and although the wait staff was very good at honoring my requests that everything be vegan and gluten free, much of it was cooked and laden with oils. I was too polite to send the food back since they had worked so hard to accommodate my food allergies. I tried to eat fresh fruits for breakfast and salads for lunch, but it wasn’t enough. On a plant-based diet, just putting oil and vinegar on a salad can result in at least 30% of the day’s calories coming from fat! That doesn’t even include fats from whole food sources. 

I am a firm believer in Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s research and approach on diet, whole foods, and macronutrients. In his latest book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, he discusses that the ideal macronutrient ratio is 80/10/10 (carbs/protein/fats). He is not the first expert to express this opinion either. Douglas Graham’s book, The 80/10/10 Diet, goes into a lot of detail about this topic as well (I recently finished this book and hope to get a review written in the coming weeks). 

I have experimented with this very low fat way of eating before, and not only did I have more energy, I also slept much better. I had been tracking my sleep for over a year on my FitBit, looking for ways to improve my sleep, and I noticed a drastic reduction in the number of sleep disturbances after eating this way for only a couple of days. The number of disturbances remained low until I started adding more fats back into my diet again. My skin complexion also seems to be much better with less fat in my diet. Ultimately, I just feel better and have more energy.

Anyway, for this reason, I’ve been striving to keep my diet very fresh and clean since I’ve been home. My fats have been very low, and since I aim for a weekly average of 10% fat, I added a small amount of avocado oil to the mushrooms in this dish to give them a bit more texture. Despite that, my omega fatty acids for the day were still balanced and I am still within range for my macronutrient ratios for the week! There is a total of 1 TB, but it is meant to be served as an appetizer for 4 people, and if you feel very strongly about omitting oils completely from your diet, you could leave it out (or you could add more for a richer mouthfeel). 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! It’s easy to make, very healthy and fresh, and the final outcome is visually appealing as well if you might have guests coming to visit. πŸ™‚

mushroom taco lettuce cups

Raw Vegan Mushroom Taco Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4
These raw vegan mushroom taco lettuce wraps are a satisfying and lean appetizer, full of flavor, and easy to make!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 head of Boston, Butter, or Bibb lettuce
  2. 8 oz white button mushrooms, diced
  3. 1 TB avocado oil (see notes on different oils)
  4. 2 TB of your favorite taco/fajita seasoning mix (refer to notes for one I like to use)
  5. 2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  6. 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
  7. 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (or more if you love it as much as I do)
  8. 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  9. 1/4 sprouted mung beans, lentils, or a mix (optional, but makes it a bit more hearty and increases the protein)
  10. 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  11. pinch of salt (or two!)
  12. 1/2 tsp cumin
  13. 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Toss chopped mushrooms, avocado oil, and taco seasoning together until mushrooms are well coated. Put in a covered glass bowl (either with a lid or with plastic wrap - no towels - you don't want the moisture to escape) and put in a dehydrator at 145 for 1 hour. (See note about temperature.)
  2. Separate the lettuce leaves from the head, clean, dry, and set aside.
  3. The remaining ingredients are for the salsa. Mix them together in a bowl and set aside to marinade while the mushrooms are sweating.
  4. When the mushrooms are ready, place some lettuce leaves onto a plate, and spoon on the salsa and seasoned mushrooms. Top with a cilantro leaf to make it extra fancy.
Notes
  1. The taco seasoning I use is from a local shop called "Penzeys Spices". They make it for chicken, but I love it on mushrooms! https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/chicken-taco-seasoning/c-24/p-516/pd-s
  2. You can use a different oil than avocado if you like, but I like this one for it's truly neutral flavor. From a health perspective, I normally prefer flax oil as it's the only plant based oil with more omega 3 than 6.
  3. If you are opposed to eating oil and very strict about eating 100% whole plant foods, you could omit it. If you want a richer mouthfeel for the mushrooms to be more "meaty", you could alternatively add more.
  4. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can marinade the mushrooms overnight instead. A little extra salt will help them to release their juices.
  5. Using your dehydrator at 145 for the short period of time called for in the recipe will not result in the internal temperature of the food being heated that high. It will still be well within range to still be considered raw. When I removed the mushrooms, they were "lukewarm" to the touch. The goal is to just help them "sweat" a bit.
  6. This recipe is meant to be eaten as an appetizer for 4 (or 2 for 2 meals each). That works out to only 3/4 tsp oil per serving.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 10

raw vegan tomato filet and cheese crisps

Day 10 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney academy is completed!

What a busy day! As we are nearing the half way point, the midterm exam was today! After the text was completed, it was time to check in on the nut cheeses that have been aging in the fridge.

The big yellow one in the back left position is a cashew and probiotic powder cheese with parsley, turmeric, onion powder, garlic, and black pepper. It has a wonderful rich and cheesy flavor. After it warms a bit, it is also spreadable. 

The large orange wedge in the back right position is macadamia and fermented coconut water with smoked paprika and caraway seed. This one will be smoked with the smoking gun after it is done curing in the fridge. 

In the front right position is a macadamia and rejuvelac cheese with dill, and in the front left position is a sweet and spreadable cheese of brazil and pine nut, fermented with water kefir, and seasoned with honey, cinnamon, cardamom, and dried figs. 

raw vegan fermented nut cheeses raw vegan fermented nut cheeses raw vegan fermented nut cheeses raw vegan fermented nut cheeses raw vegan fermented nut cheeses raw vegan fermented nut cheeses

After checking in on the cheeses, we put together a light and simple dish of filleted heirloom tomatoes, tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and plated with the basil butter made during the first week of the class. It was topped with the cheese crisps we made yesterday and some micro greens. I choose to use some micro basil from my porch garden. πŸ™‚

If you’d like to make something similar there is a great recipe for “herbed crackers” in Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney. To make them more cheesy, simply add more nutritional yeast. 

raw vegan tomato filet and cheese crisps raw vegan tomato filet and cheese crisps raw vegan tomato filet and cheese crisps

After enjoying a nice appetizer, we got a sneak peek of the pastry work that we will be doing in week 3. We started a batch of cinnamon rolls! We made a dough that was rolled out and then added a spiced paste and some crushed nuts and dried fruit. They were put in the freezer to set up, and at the start of week 3, we’ll be slicing them and warming in the dehydrator, to be served with some special sides and a surprise beverage!

raw vegan cinnamon rolls raw vegan cinnamon rolls raw vegan cinnamon rolls

 

To finish off the day, we had the opportunity to design our own enhanced sauce in the form of a frozen butter that could be served with either our cinnamon rolls, or a bread loaf that we will learn how to make next week. I chose to make a spicy chocolate butter that will be paired with the cinnamon rolls, and have included the recipe below for you. πŸ™‚

Here are some shots of it fresh out of the blender and in the silicon trays. It would also be good on its own as a chocolate sauce to drizzle over some ice cream. 

raw vegan spicy chocolate butter raw vegan spicy chocolate butter raw vegan spicy chocolate butter

Mayan Chocolate Sauce / Frozen Chocolate Butter
A warm and spicy chocolate sauce, which can also be frozen into a chocolate butter.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup avocado oil
  2. 2 TB coconut oil
  3. 2 TB agave syrup
  4. 2 TB cacao powder
  5. 1 tsp chili powder
  6. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1/4 tsp chipotle smoked sea salt
  8. pinch cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until perfectly smooth. Use immediately either as a chocolate sauce on an ice cream, or freeze into silicon molds to use as spicy chocolate butter on your favorite warm dessert for a textural treat.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 7

raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato

Day 7 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary completed!

I’ve had such a fun time working on everything today with many opportunities to exercise my creativity. I’ve learned so much while taking these courses, not only about flavors and techniques, but also about art. My plating skills have improved dramatically, and as an artist, these playful arrangements translate into more lessons for me than just those with culinary applications. They have made me a better photographer, causing me to reconsider placement of the people and objects in my portraits. 

The day was started by adding some sliced apples and pears into a water bath for a little more practice with the sous vide technique. Following that, we learned about and executed two “amuse bouche” dishes. According to Wikipedia, “amuse bouche” literally means, “mouth amuser”. It is a 1-2 bite sized course that is both intense and playful.

We were given the freedom to create two of our own amuse bouche plates. My selections were inspired by the produce and herbs that I’ve been growing in my garden this summer, and by Florida grown produce in general. I tried to include local components in each dish (some as local as my patio).

The first plate includes some of my favorite flavors. It is small sampling of red and yellow grape tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and scallions atop a parsley and dill hemp seed pesto, which acts as both a surprise element in the dish, and a punch of flavor. 

Recipe link: Parsley and Dill Hemp Seed Pesto

raw vegan amuse bouche raw vegan amuse bouche

I wanted my second amuse bouche to be plated differently from the first, and I wanted a way to transform a classic non-vegan hors d’oeuvre into a healthful raw vegan version. In this dish, I created my version of “prosciutto and melon” using hami melon (sometimes called “Honey Kiss melon”), marinaded red pepper, and Florida avocados with a basil and ginger cucumber sauce. I was very pleased with the result. 

Recipe link: Bell Pepper ‘Prosciutto’ and Melon

raw vegan melon and prosciutto raw vegan melon and prosciutto

While I was busy snacking on my amuse bouche creations, we learned how to use the dehydrator as a “hot box”, which is very handy for creating a “wilted greens” texture, but leaving them completely raw with all of their precious nutrients and enzymes in tact, as the temperature remains at or below 115. 

The salad we made with this technique was a simple spinach salad tossed with some olive oil and lemon, and included a little bit of our macadamia nut goat cheese, some chopped golden raisins, and some pine nuts. Two thumbs up from the husband on this one! We ate it for dinner. πŸ™‚

raw vegan wilted spinach salad raw vegan wilted spinach salad raw vegan wilted spinach salad

After the salad, it was time for dessert. With all of the components for the apple pear crumble ready to go, all that was needed was to plate it. I had enough to make a few of them, so I plated it 2 different ways to see how it would look. Which one do you like best? πŸ™‚

This dish is comprised of the apples and pears that were in the sous vide earlier today. We were told to cut them with final plating in mind. I made very thin round slices on the mandolin, sans cores. In one plating, I rolled them up; in the other, I left them them flat. They are topped off with the oat crumble that we put in the dehydrator yesterday, along with the almond gelato that we also made yesterday. I got a little more practice making perfectly shaped quenelles. I think I’m getting the hang of it! The whole thing is topped off with a little bit of star anise syrup that we made today and a pinch of star anise for garnish. I love that stuff!

If you’d like to make this yourself at home, Matthew Kenney’s book, Everyday Raw Desserts, from pages 118-129, contains a variety of recipes for crumbles, cobblers, and ice creams that you can mix and match to make any number of similar desserts.

raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato

We ended the day by starting on an advanced pickling assignment. We are making quick pickles here, so the process includes some vinegar, as well as salt, which helps them to be ready quicker than a traditional salt brine only ferment. The class is only 4 weeks, so this method is understandable. We were allowed to experiment with flavors and ingredients that we thought might go well with our aged cheeses. I love pickling experiments, so I made two different jars – one with fruit and another with vegetables. 

My fruit pickles are: elderberry, lavender, apple, ginger, peeled muscadine grapes, and cinnamon. 

My vegetable pickles are: squash, carrot, shallot, turnip, radish, portobello, chili pepper, peppercorn, dill, and smoked sea salt. 

If after 4-5 days, they turn out well, I’ll share the exact recipes. πŸ™‚

pickled fruit pickled root vegetables

Parsley and Dill Hemp Seed Pesto (Raw Vegan)

raw vegan amuse bouche

It’s no secret that I love pesto, and I love to experiment with different varieties because of all the herbs that I’m growing. I’ve been trying to squeeze in as many uses as I can for them before the weather cools and they are no longer flourishing. This parsley and dill hemp seed pesto was created as part of a class assignment, through Matthew Kenney Culinary, to create two amuse bouche dishes.

The pesto is the base for this particular dish, atop which is stacked some red and yellow grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber, thinly sliced radishes, scallion, a few alfalfa sprouts, and some sprigs of dill. A tiny pinch of salt is sprinkled on top to tenderize and enhance the flavor of the vegetables. Every tiny mouthful allows for a little variation in which vegetables are paired with the pesto. It was really wonderful. I enjoyed both eating it and plating it.

Parsley and Dill Hemp Seed Pesto (Raw Vegan)
A delicious herbal pesto made from parsley, dill, and hemp seed. Parsley is a great source of iron and hemp seed is not only a source of good fats, but also offers a full range of essential amino acids.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup parsley, loosely packed
  2. 1/2 cup dill, loosely packed
  3. 1 clove garlic (bonus: use fermented garlic to add some probiotics)
  4. 2 TB hemp seed
  5. 2 TB cup extra virgin olive oil or flax seed oil
  6. 1 TB nutritional yeast (optional if you feel opposed to eating it, as it is not truly raw)
  7. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  8. few twists of black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until herbs are thoroughly and finely chopped. This produces a chunky pesto. If you'd like a smoother pesto, use more olive oil.
Notes
  1. Use 1 tsp dried garlic for a milder garlic flavor.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Raw Vegan ‘Prosciutto’ and Melon

raw vegan melon and prosciutto

I’ve been taking raw vegan culinary classes online through Matthew Kenney Culinary, and learning some amazing things. My favorite assignments are the ones where we are given a full creative license to take the skills we’ve learned and translate them into our own creations. You may remember the Bloody Mary Gazpacho that I created in my previous class, Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine, which was the result of one of these creative exercises. 

I’m currently taking the second class, Advanced Raw Cuisine, where we were given another of these exercises to create 2 “amuse bouche” plates. This raw vegan ‘prosciutto’ and melon dish was one of those creations. I wanted a way to re-create a popular non-vegan hors d’oeuvre in a more healthful and kind way that would still please the palate. This was the result.

Please enjoy. πŸ™‚

Raw Vegan 'Prosciutto' and Melon
A more healthful and kinder alternative to the traditional "prosciutto and melon" appetizer, this re-creation is packed full of vitamin C with a familiar smoky and salty texture.
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 red bell pepper
  2. 1/4 of a cantaloupe, 1/4 of a honeydew melon, or 1/2 of a hami melon
  3. 1/4-1/2 of an avocado
  4. 1 TB grapeseed oil
  5. generous pinch (or 2) of smoked sea salt
  6. 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the bell pepper. It's ok if you can't get the very top and bottom. We'll only be shaving off the flatter and broader sides.
  2. Using a mandolin slicer, shave off slices of the bell pepper that are as thin as you can make them while still keeping the cut pieces completely in tact with a continuous surface (no holes).
  3. Depending on the thickness you'd like the 'prosciutto' to be for the final plating, you may cut these in half. I did for the toothpick plating, but for something served on a plate, you might prefer to leave them wider.
  4. Add the shaved peppers to a bowl with the grapeseed oil, smoked sea salt, and smoked paprika. Toss them all together and ensure each piece is thoroughly coated. This will add not only a slightly darker color, but a smoky and salty flavor, and result in a pliable texture. Let it marinade for 15-20 minutes or until the peppers have the texture of a thinly shaved prosciutto.
  5. While the peppers are marinading, make melon balls and slice some triangle shaped avocado wedges.
  6. To assemble, slide onto toothpicks: avocados, then the peppers bent into wavy ribbons, and then a melon ball.
  7. Serve either on small plates or in some spoons.
Notes
  1. You can easily scale this recipe up or use other colored peppers or melons to get a different visual effect.
  2. I recommend not substituting for a different oil. Grapeseed was selected for its neutral flavor and salty undertones.
  3. Smoked sea salt contributes toward the smoky flavor of this dish. The smoked paprika is essential, but if you don't have smoked salt, using regular salt will still produce a good result. The smoky flavor will not be as rich, though.
  4. You can use any kind of avocado you like. I originally used the Florida avocado to add a bit of sweetness to the dish, but I prefer the Haas avocados.
  5. It is very helpful if you look for bell peppers that have relatively flat and broad sides, as they will be run over a mandolin slicer.
  6. If you slice the wider shaved pepper pieces in half and you have a larger pepper to start with, you should get 15-20 pieces from it.
  7. Traditionally, these are served alone, but you can add a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or some fresh herbs if you like. I think serving them with a bit of basil or mint makes an excellent palate cleanser.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 3

raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh.

Day 3 of Advanced Raw Cuisine is completed!

This has been a truly wonderful and delicious journey so far. We are not only creating beautiful raw versions of classic recipes like romesco and tabbouleh, but we are also learning the foundations upon which those recipes are built so that we will have the tools to create our own recipes in the future. Every one of these edible works of art is made from pure and uncomplicated ingredients. This is truly how food was meant to be eaten.

Today, we focused on tomato based sauces, demonstrating this technique with a raw vegan romesco sauce. I used a vibrant yellow tomato that I found at my local market to introduce an extra pop of color into the dish. Not unlike a traditional romesco, we used tomatoes, bell pepper, chopped nuts, and spices to build flavor and texture. The finished product was richly flavorful and vibrant, keeping all of the enzymes and vitamin C from the tomatoes and peppers intact that would otherwise be lost to the cooking process. 

raw vegan romesco raw vegan romesco

 The second recipe we learned was a muhammara. Muhammara is dip eaten in the North African and Middle Eastern regions, traditionally made with red peppers, walnuts, bread crumbs, and olive oil. In the raw version, the dip is infused with a concentrated pepper flavor by dehydrating the peppers first. We also soak and dry our nuts to neutralize enzyme inhibitors, which makes them more digestible. Otherwise, it’s not too different from the traditional preparation, except that we use no breadcrumbs. The other ingredients give it so much texture that it’s really not needed. 

raw vegan muhammara raw vegan muhammara

We’ve also created a tabbouleh, replacing the bulgar wheat with hemp seed, and a zucchini hummus, which amazingly, has a very similar texture and flavor to one made with cooked chickpeas. Mine is a little more orange than usual because I’m currently having a secret love affair with smoked paprika. I love the hemp seed in the tabbouleh because it adds a slightly nutty flavor, good fats, and the complete range of essential amino acids. Besides that, it’s easy to come by and requires no preparation, making this version of the recipe even easier to prepare than its traditional counterpart. 

The tabbouleh recipe can be found on page 88 of Matthew Kenney’s book, Everyday Raw. It calls for sprouted quinoa, but it is easily exchanged for hemp seed. 

The eggplant bacon is on page 58 of the same book. Some basic flat bread recipes are on pages 50-52.

The hummus recipe is on page 85 of Everyday Raw Express: Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less.

raw vegan tabbouleh

Besides the muhammara, humus, and tabbouleh, the mezze platter also contains the eggplant bacon and the olive flatbread we created in the days prior. It all came together nicely with complimentary flavors and textures that were a delight to snack on for dinner. My husband ate his fair share too. πŸ˜‰

raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh. raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh. raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh. raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh.

The last plate of the day was mushroom calamari with caper and herb tartar sauce and the romesco that was prepared at the start of the day. We cut calamari shaped rings from mushrooms with ring cutters, and then marinaded them to create a softer, more rubbery, and fattier texture… like calamari, but without harming any sea creatures in the process. After marinading them, we “breaded” them with a blend of flax meal and herbs and then dehydrated until the outside was crispy.

It’s really an ingenious process, and the flavor and texture were very familiar and comforting without having that “greasy” feeling that fried foods leave in your mouth. This is food that leaves you feeling energetic, rather than lethargic, after eating it. There’s also no fear of burning yourself with any dangerous hot oils in during the preparation process. 

raw vegan mushroom calamari raw vegan mushroom calamari raw vegan mushroom calamari raw vegan mushroom calamari raw vegan romesco sauce raw vegan tartar sauce

Before the day was over, we also made two batches of seasoned cashews to add some extra flavor and texture in future recipes. One batch is coriander and the other batch is curry. I just love coriander. It is seriously underrated as a spice. Looking forward to making and eating more delicious things tomorrow!

seasoned nuts - curried cashews

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 2

raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi

On to day 2 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary! Today’s delectable treats included a raw vegan gnocchi and a vegetable miso soup. Not only was there was ample opportunity to continue honing my skills, every dish provided an opportunity to make culinary art and continue improving my plating skills as well. I have truly enjoyed learning new things each and every day.

The first thing I did today was to do a bit of rearranging in the dehydrator. I checked on the olive bread that I put in yesterday and removed it when I found that it was nice and crispy. In its place, I put in the eggplant that I left to marinade overnight. 

Our first lesson for today was on the second of the five raw mother sauces, the vegetable stock. That’s right! You don’t have to give up that tasty soup or your favorite recipes. We can still make flavorful raw vegetable stocks through juicing, blending, and dehydrating. It doesn’t take any more time than simmering a cooked stock would, and all of the vitamins and enzymes are kept in tact. This is especially important when you consider the heat-sensitive vitamin C and that unlike other primate and mammalian species, humans cannot manufacture their own!

Isn’t this broth beautiful?

raw vegan vegetable stock

 

 

Our next lesson was starting on a root vegetable gnocchi. I really love that we have the creative freedom to customize the flavors and ingredient choices in this class. It allows the recipe creation process to feel a lot more personal when the selected ingredients are close to your heart (and tongue!).

For the gnocchi, we were allowed to select any root vegetable that we wanted. The demo was shown using beets. Indeed, they offer many health benefits and are fantastic liver cleaners. I wanted to use a root vegetable that I hadn’t been able to work with over the duration of these courses yet and picked one of my personal favorites, sweet potato! I’ve really been into the color orange lately too. Beta carotine, FTW!

We were given the option to shape them into fancy French quenelles, or to roll them and use a fork to give them more of a “rustic” look. I chose the latter. I really love the traditional look of gnocchi with the ridges across the middle. After forming our selected shapes, into the dehydrator they went!

raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi

 

While waiting a few hours for the gnocchi, there were plenty of other projects to work on, one of which was more fermented nut cheese! We made a few of these in our Level 1 class, but this time around, we’ll be using our own probiotics and aging them to build some additional character in the flavor and texture. I’m a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to fermenting things, so I had to make sure there were enough batches to experiment with. πŸ˜‰

I’ve got a “control” batch of cashew with a standard probiotic powder, a brazil/pine nut combo with water kefir, a couple pistachio experiments with kimchi and sauerkraut brines, and some macadamia cheeses with fermented coconut water and rejuvelac. 

raw vegan nut cheesesraw vegan nut cheesesprobiotic fermented food

 

The second recipe we worked on while waiting for the gnocchi to dehydrate a bit more was a “new style miso soup”. This soup was a great opportunity to test out the versatility of the raw vegan vegetable broth. It was a flavorful and creative cross between a vegetable soup and a miso soup. It was also slightly creamy, but retained a lightness to it, which made for a satisfying appetizer. Working on this recipe gave me a lot of creative ideas for just how versatile our second mother sauce really is.

raw vegan vegetable miso soupraw vegan vegetable miso soup raw vegan vegetable miso soup raw vegan vegetable miso soup

At long last, after being taunted with the wonderful smells coming out of my dehydrator (don’t forget, the eggplant bacon is still in there too), something was ready to come out and be eaten. I removed the gnocchi after warming the lemon cream sauce from yesterday’s lesson a bit.

In addition to the cream sauce, we learned how to make gremolata, a parsley and lemon based condiment that adds a refreshing quality to an otherwise rich or heavy dish. The flavors and textures paired very well with the Meyer lemon cream sauce, and the textural contrasts looked beautiful on the plate as well.

The most rewarding part of all this is that the parsley came from my porch garden! Food is so much more rewarding when you’ve grown it yourself.

The whole thing was topped off with some micro-greens. I chose some baby chard here, not only for their mild tangy flavor, but also for the beautiful pop of color that the red stems added to the plating. I was really thrilled with how this all came together. It is by far the most beautiful dish I’ve ever put together, and I learned all of the skills with the help of my wonderful instructors. I am really impressed with the quality of the culinary education I’ve been receiving from an online program!

raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi

 

That wrapped up my second day! Looking forward to tomorrow’s projects! We will be putting a mezze platter together and learning about tomato sauces!