As founder and executive chef at Leaf Organics, a chain of Los Angeles-area restaurants offering vegan, raw and macrobiotic foods, Rod Rotondi has been making healthy eating easier for the West Coast set. Now, he’s making raw food manageable for the masses with his book Raw Food for Real People. But in case the thought of “cooking” an entire raw meal still seems daunting, we’ve excerpted three easy recipes below for raw appetizers and desserts, just to get you started. What you serve in-between is up to you!
Cashew Kreme Cheeze
I invented this spread one night after people had been asking me to make some for years. I don’t know what took me so long, but it was worth the wait. You can serve it with virtually anything edible — crackers, crudités, whatever — and it will taste great.
Makes 3 cups
1 medium lemon, peeled and quartered
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup water, plus additional (up to 1/2 cup) as needed
2 cups soaked cashews (soaked 2 hours, drained, and rinsed; you may want to soak a few more to have on hand to improve consistency of dip)
1. Put the lemon in a blender, then add the coconut oil, agave nectar, cayenne, dill, garlic, onion, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Blend well. Slowly add the cashews while blending, occasionally stopping to move the mixture with a spatula. If the mix gets too thick to blend more cashews into, add more water a teaspoon at a time and continue to add cashews. If the final mix is too thin (that is, more like a dressing than a dip), blend in more cashews until it has a thick dip consistency. Keep in mind, however, that once the mix cools in the fridge it will get significantly thicker.
2. Remove to a small bowl, cover, and chill for one hour.
Onion and Chive Cashew Kreme Cheeze
Follow the directions for regular Cashew Kreme Cheeze, but after removing to a bowl, mix in 1 tablespoon chopped yellow or spring onion and 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives. Garnish with a sprig of chives and serve with crackers or crudités.
Kreme Cheeze and Lox
Follow the directions for Onion and Chive Cashew Kreme Cheeze and refrigerate. In a blender, combine 1/4 cup dulse flakes with 1 tablespoon miso paste and 1/2 cup water and blend. Put 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in a medium bowl and pour the dulse mixture over them; let marinate for 1 hour. Drain the tomatoes, cut them into strips, and mix them into the Kreme Cheeze. Garnish with strips of the marinated sun-dried tomatoes and serve on a piece of raw bread, or with crackers or crudités.
Mango and Coconut Cashew Kreme Cheeze
Follow the directions for regular Cashew Kreme Cheeze, but increase the amount of coconut oil to 3 tablespoons and the amount of agave nectar to 2 tablespoons. After removing to a bowl, mix in 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mango and 1 tablespoon dried coconut. Garnish with coconut flakes and mango slices and serve with crackers or crudités.
Cashew Kreme Cheeze Sliders
These delicious little sandwiches make great hors d’oeuvres. Prepare Cashew Kreme Cheeze and Artisan Herb Bread. Slather each slice of bread with a generous layer of Kreme Cheeze, then add a slice of tomato, some mesclun greens, and thinly sliced red onions, if you like.
Artisan Herb Bread
Sandwiches, anyone? This bread is especially good with any Mediterranean-inspired spread or sauce.
Makes about 20 pieces
1 medium carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups sprouted buckwheat
3/4 cup sprouted sunflower seeds
3/4 cup sprouted lentils
1/2 cup soaked almonds (soaked 8 to 10 hours, drained, and rinsed)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup water, plus additional (up to 1 cup) as needed
1/2 cup ground golden flaxseeds
1. Put the squash, carrot, buckwheat, sunflower seeds, lentils, almonds, onion, salt, and 1 cup water in a food processor and blend until smooth; add a little more water as needed to keep it all moving in the processor. If it stops blending, then add a bit more water, stir, and try again. Repeat until it blends continuously.
2. Put the ground flaxseeds in a large bowl. Add the blended ingredients to the ground seeds and stir until evenly blended.
3. Remove the dough to a ParraFlex sheet on a dehydrator tray and spread evenly to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
4. Dehydrate for 3 to 5 hours, until the top of the bread is dry, then flip by placing another tray (without a ParraFlex sheet) on top and inverting the bread onto the new tray. Remove the ParraFlex sheet, return the bread to the dehydrator, and continue to dehydrate for another 10 to 12 hours, until the bread is dry but still flexible. Cut into 4-inch-square slices.
Strawberry Mousse Tartlets
This very elegant dessert has been one of our most popular desserts in our restaurants. You can also eat the mousse on its own!
Makes 8 to 10 tartlets
For the Strawberry Glaze and Mousse
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon beet juice (optional; for color)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup soaked cashews (soaked 2 hours, drained, and rinsed)
For the Crust
1 cup Brazil nuts
1 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. To make the Strawberry Glaze: Combine the strawberries, lemon juice, agave nectar, beet juice, and salt in a blender. Blend well. Remove half of the glaze to a bowl and refrigerate while making the mousse and crust.
2. To make the Strawberry Mousse: To the remaining glaze in the blender, slowly add the cashews while blending, occasionally stopping to move the mixture with a spatula. Blend until smooth and thick. Refrigerate while making the crust.
3. To make the crust: Put the nuts in a food processor and process until powdered. Add the dates, agave nectar, and salt and process until the mixture forms a ball. Divide the dough into little balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, then form the balls into little tartlet shells, keeping the sides high and the center deep to hold as much mousse as possible.
4. Fill each tartlet with mousse, drizzle glaze over the top, and serve. Yummy!
Excerpted from the book Raw Food for Real People © 2010 by Rod Rotondi. Published with permission from New World Library.