I don’t know what you guys like to do when you’re at the cottage, but one of the many things I enjoy doing (aside from swimming, walking, chatting, canoeing, swatting, laughing, catching up, reading, napping, sunbathing, diving, water-skiing, snuggling, bon-firing, cooking, cleaning – not fun but necessary – daydreaming, etc.) is to reread one of the many Food & Wine magazines lying around from years passed. Yes, I’ve already leafed through them dozens of times, but each time it seems I find something new to try out, and this recipe is one of them (tweaked of course – I don’t think I’m physically capable of following a recipe exactly). I’ve made it twice so far, and am thinking that this is one that will keep coming back again and again. There are three reasons for making this recipe a favourite staple: 1) it’s easy, 2) it’s yummy, 3) if you have leftover cashew cream, you can use it as an elegant and surprising stir-fry sauce, or as a salad dressing, depending on how much you thin it down with water. I’ve done both, and it’s delicious. The versatility of this recipe will hit you as you read through what follows. What gets me is that I keep thinking of new things to do with it (after a little tweaking naturally). Stay posted for new variations – maybe something to do with pâté…
Without any further ado, here she be (and thanks to Food & Wine for the initial recipe!):
- 2 medium eggplants or zucchini (*see below), sliced lengthwise into 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick slices
- 2 cups raw cashews (I’ve also used roasted, salted cashews and the result was delish – just watch the salt content)
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (you could also leave this out, or replace with rosemary and roasted garlic or sun-dried tomatoes for a different tack)
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Now light your grill or preheat your oven to about 400 degrees (I’ve used both and I think I prefer the BBQ, but that’s because I wasn’t paying attention and I overcooked it in the oven, which made for delicious eggplant chips that were too crispy to roll very well). Anyhoo, while those are preheating, in a food processor, grind up the cashews then add the nutritional yeast and water and process to a fine paste. Add the spices, blend them in, then set aside. Yep, it’s that easy.
Brush the eggplant/zucchini slices with olive oil and grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until tender and lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes. If you’re doing this in the oven, you should flip them once at around the 10 minute mark, then watch to make sure they don’t get TOO crispy. You want them cooked but still soft.
Arrange the eggplant/zucchini/tofu on a work surface and season with a teeny bit of sea salt and pepper. Spoon about a tablespoon of the cashew filling onto one end of each eggplant/zucchini slice. Roll into tight cylinders. Tah-dah, you’re done. You can either serve these warm or cold – both are awesome alone or with a garnish.
* You can also use tofu skins in lieu of veggies, but if you do you’ll have to do things a little differently: 1) You’ll have to pre-cook the skins in veggie broth to rehydrate them. Then, 2) I would suggest folding them so they’re long strips that have been doubled or even tripled to ensure they don’t rip during the rolling process. 3) Spoon the mixture on each end, roll them tightly and then put them under the broiler for a few minutes to get a little crisp on them – just watch them like a hawk. If you don’t want to make rolls, why don’t you try adding a bit of five-spice and sticking the mixture into a wonton wrapper to make a dumpling? Really, the possibilities are endless. Endless!