Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dinner tonight: salad and “toast”

This is one of those things that Dan and I would normally eat during the week but after dinner out last night I didn’t want a big elaborate and heavy meal. So … I opted for salad with a few “toasts” topped with nut cheese and red pepper pesto.

The salad was a simple veggie salad tossed with a creamy artichoke and raw cashew dressing. I didn’t actually measure the ingredients so I will give you the method instead. In the blender I combined about 2/3 cup of raw cashews with a 7 or 8 frozen and defrosted artichoke hearts to this I added a big pinch of grey salt and little Dijon. I buzzed this in the blender and added water until it was a consistency I liked. Then I tossed the baby spinach with as much dressing as was necessary and topped it with: marinated artichoke hearts, orange bell pepper strips, marinated mushrooms, sliced grape tomatoes, chick peas and cucumber.

To accompany the salad I made another batch of the panelle and polenta hybrid “toasts”. I made them essentially the same but spread the entire mixture in a half sheet pan and baked it all in a low oven (250) until it was done. Be certain to line the pan with silpat or parchment or they will be tough to remove.

To go on top of the “toasts” I made a nut cheese and a red pepper pesto. The pesto was another one of those toss things in the food processor recipe. I drained two roasted red pepper and put those in the food processor until they were fine. The mixture appears too “wet” so I added a couple of dehydrated peppers to absorb some of the liquid. You could use sun dried tomatoes and get the same effect. I added some capers, kalamata olives, a peeled garlic clove and lemon zest. Then adjust for seasoning. You may need to add a splash of wine vinegar to wake up the flavor. Refrigerate until needed.

The nut cheese was another experiment. But then again that describes all of my recipes really. I wanted to see what would happen if I added raw pumpkin seeds to the nut cheese. Here is what I did:

Macadamia Nut and Raw Pumpkin Seed Cheese
Makes approximately 26 ounces or 52 tablespoons


2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked at least 4 hours and drained
2/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds, soaked at least 4 hours and drained
1 tablespoon white miso, or to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 ½ teaspoons grey salt, or to taste
½ cup almond milk, unsweetened, or what is necessary to get the texture you want


Process the nuts and seeds until ground. Add the miso, garlic, salt and a tablespoon of the almond milk (or water) and continue to process. Add the almond milk a little at a time until you like the texture of the nut cheese. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend.

Nutritional Information (per tablespoon):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 47.71
Calories From Fat (84%) - 39.91

Total Fat - 4.77g
Saturated Fat - 0.78g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 68.71mg
Potassium - 36.05mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.15g
Fiber - 0.54g
Sugar-  0.27g
Protein - 0.89g


Adding pumpkin seeds doesn’t change the texture of the nut cheese. It does give the cheese a little bit of a light green hue. But the flavor is good. It is different from the version I made with pine nuts but we like this one just as well. Next time I may combine all three (mac, pine and pumpkin) in a cheese just to see how that works out. One thing I have learned is that any nuts can be used to make a nice vegan cheese. I still love the almond feta I have been making for a year. It takes much longer, but it is good. If I remember I will try to make a raw version of that soon.

The little “toasts” with nut cheese and red pepper pesto were well received as was the salad. The parental units never stop amazing me. I think they seem to forget that my food is vegan. Or maybe they are just ignoring it, I don’t really know which. They ate the salad (without oil) without a word. Will wonders never cease?

Unrelated note:

Late this evening we decided to run a few errands, including a quick trip to Wegman’s for provisions. I still don’t know what I am making tomorrow but I bought the following: savoy cabbage, kale, zucchini, ginger, cilantro, Italian parsley, dill, jalapenos, maitake mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, low fat coconut milk, sesame seeds, golden raisin and miso. How that translates into dinner I don’t know but it looked good so in the cart it went. It will be interesting to see what I finally make.

When we were at Wegman’s we ran into our buddy Walid. Now it wasn’t odd when we ran into him at the local grocery store since he lived a block away from us. But he and Jackie recently moved and there he was at the store again. He wants us to come to dinner at the new house next Saturday. The brave man has offered to cook us an Egyptian dinner. We are so hard to cook for I wish he wouldn’t but he is insisting on cooking. It will be fun and I hope he doesn’t have to work too hard to make things we eat.

That is it for tonight. I will be back tomorrow with whatever I happen to make for dinner. I hope you are all having a good holiday weekend.


  1. Looks like a pretty yummy dinner to me. I'm looking forward to hearing about your Egyptian dinner next week.

    Happy Easter Sunday to you.

  2. I love that salad! I am not much of an artichoke girl, but i would definately try this! I need some tips on oil-less salad dressings that will be easy and the ingredients any idea's oh...and the picky one (kaiti) would like too. she is a strange girl, so she likes garlic and sharp flavors....PLEASE!!!!!

  3. Rose,

    Thanks! We eat variations of this very often.

    I am certainly interested in what Walid comes up with too. I have a cookbook he bought me in Cairo that is quite interesting. So many ingredients that I have no idea what they are. It will definitely be a learning experience.


    I make many oil-less salad dressings. Some of my favorites are white miso and mirin, or creamy ones that are nut based. You can also use silken tofu to make creamy dressings. Do a search on salad dressings on my site and will get a lot of options. I think kati will like the Asian Walnut dressing.

    Happy Easter to both of you!


  4. That salad looks soooo good. Yum. I love artichokes. I wish I would have had time this weekend to try that "toast" b/c it would have been great with my salad last night too.

  5. Heather,

    Thanks, we love salad for dinner too. The little "toasts" work great with salad. You can expect to see them often now. I love that they are low calorie but also include a little protein.

    Hope you are having a great Sunday.


  6. The salad looks absolutely delicious, Alicia! I love the sound of how you made your dressing, I can see myself making that kind of thing:) The toast also looks yummy, Mmm!

  7. Oraphan,

    I use raw cashews as the base of salad dressings often. Then you can add whatever flavorings you are in the mood for at that time. Depending on how thick you make the dressing it can also make a good dip for veggies.


  8. Are those store bought Artichokes? If so, what brand? They're gorgeous!

  9. SV,

    I made those from fresh, sorry. =( But Costco sells a Kirkland brand that is very good that I stopped buying because they are packed in oil. If you are okay with oil you should try them. They come in a huge jar. If you are interested in making your own marinated artichokes let me know and I will post the recipe the next time I make a batch.


  10. Yes, I can't wait to hear about the Egyptian dinner. I would guess there would alot he could make for you, as fresh veg and fruit are a major part of their cuisine.
    The salad looks amazing!

  11. Megan,

    Dinner on Saturday will definitely be fun. I will get the recipes and post pics of the Egyptian food Walid makes.


  12. Wow! Made from fresh Artichokes. Sound fantastic!

  13. SV,

    Marinated veggies are all fairly simple to make. But most people seem to shy away from using fresh artichokes which is why I didn't post the recipe yet.



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