In my humble opinion, you can never go wrong with a cookbook from Isa Chandra Moskowitz. From Veganomicon (and those chickpea cutlets!) to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (no explanation needed here!), you always get a ton of great recipes that are pretty simple to make. Her latest book, Vegan Brunch, offers up some of her best “work” yet.
So far, I’ve made the Banana Rabanada, Whole Berry Sauce, Garden Herb Spread and the Cashew Ricotta. I gotta tell you, I’m in love with the Cashew Ricotta. I’ve never cared for real ricotta, it always tasted spoiled to me. But Isa’s version is heavenly. It’s soft with the same texture of real ricotta without any of the nasty animal ingredients. And what makes it even cooler (as if that is possible), is that it’s made with mostly tofu instead of raw nuts. Most of the faux ricotta recipes I’ve seen rely heavily on raw nuts, making the dishes pretty high in fat. Albeit the nut versions are good fats, but you need to really watch portion control or you can really go overboard with the calories/fats.
I might have went a bit wild when I made this. I think I put it on everything I ate that day…and the next day…and maybe even the day after that. It’s pretty damn tasty.
So, here’s what I made with my Cashew Ricotta:
I call this my “Faux Sausage Napoleon”. I took some Gimme Lean Sausage and cooked it according to the package (oiled skillet till browned) and set it aside. I cut thick slices of beefsteak (I never understood why they call them that – it’s baffling) tomatoes I scored at the farmers market and cooked them (in the same skillet I cooked the sausage in) till they went a bit soft. Here’s the assembly: I put one slice of tomato on the bottom, topped with cashew ricotta, a whole sweet basil leaf and then a sausage patty. I continued to layer until my napoleon looked done to me (about 3 layers). I served it with a side of sesame green beans and a bowl of cherries.
For breakfast the next day I decided to try a fruit roll up. I took a flatbread (any good vegan one will work fine) and heated it up in a slightly oiled skillet. Once heated nicely, remove from heat. You don’t want to cook it, just heat it up because the bread will roll better when warm. Then top with Cashew Ricotta, Whole Berry Sauce (from Vegan Brunch) sliced strawberries, and bananas. Roll up and enjoy! The garlic in the Cashew Ricotta lends itself well to the sweetness of the fruit. It was a perfect (and nutrient packed) energy filled breakfast!
I also made faux bacon, lettuce and tomato sammies using the Cashew Ricotta in place of mayo. For a snack I topped crackers with Cashew Ricotta and sun dried tomatoes. And I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m convinced that it would go excellent in a vegan lasagna. With so many uses Cashew Ricotta has quickly become one of my favorite “have on hand” spreads!
Here is the recipe for Isa’s Cashew Ricotta. I changed it slightly and noted where my version is different than hers.
Cashew Ricotta ~ Vegan Brunch ~ page 219
- 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces ** I used 1/4 cup rather than 1/2 **
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice ** I used an entire lemon but I like lemon-y things alot **
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves fresh or roasted garlic ** I used fresh **
- 1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil ** I used fresh and I put a ton of it in there **
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a food processor, blend together cashews, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic until paste forms. Add tofu until well blended. Add basil and salt and blend well.
Side note here: I also added cracked black pepper.