Cooking Adventure With Cashew Pizza & Cherry Pie

January 21, 2014

I think the sign of a good friend is somebody that requires little effort to be around. Hanging out is just easy. They like the same things, think the same thoughts, and in my world, that means they really like healthy food. So a few months back when I found myself in a conversation with this smiley, energetic girl about gluten-free diets and homemade salad dressing, I knew I had found a good one.

Marta and I quickly became lunch buddies, venturing off to Whole Foods and World Market together, sometimes just to walk the aisles, but always ending up at the cash register with some new find. This past Friday, we decided to go all out and have an all night cooking adventure.

Our night started at Costco, walking down every aisle, geeking out about giant bags of asparagus and big bottles of organic honey, followed by an emergency stop at Whole Foods, and finally ending up in Marta’s kitchen, surrounded by extra large groceries and ingredients for vegan pizza and cherry pie. And you know what? We enjoyed the hell out of it all. Yup, spending Friday night at Costco. I guess what’s torture to some is heaven to others.

Leading up to our cooking adventure, I did my usual recipe research, obsessing over finding the perfect thing to make on a Friday night with my healthy counterpart. After compiling dozens of recipe links, it was the Roasted Tomato Cashew Pizza that made the cut, along with Cherry Pie for dessert.

ROASTED TOMATO CASHEW PIZZA

I was surprised to find that cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts. To me, they are so buttery that I always assumed they were one of the fattier nut options. But when I looked into it, I found that approximately 82% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 66% of this unsaturated fatty acid content are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, similar to those found in olive oil. They are also very high in copper. Copper helps the body with iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue and the production of melanin. 

I could go on about the health benefits, but instead, I’ll direct you here to read more. Now, about the taste. Marta and I were super pleased by how this turned out. The cashew sauce is creamy, nutty and herby with a slight bite. The Naan bread served to be the perfect chewy crust. And it totally satisfies any pizza cravings you have without cheese and processed meat. If I made this recipe again, the one thing I would change is use even more tomatoes – add more to the sauce and add a few as a topping before you bake it. My only warning is – don’t make it if you are really hungry. It took us about 1½ hours to make (which meant snacking endlessly on Truffle & Parmesan Pop Chips and steamed edamame pods). But it was so worth it in the end. 

IDEA: To save time, you can double up on the cashew sauce and save it for 3-5 days. That cuts the recipe time down to 15 minutes. Just pour the sauce on the bread and pop it in the oven.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of cashews
  • 2 cups of tomatoes, chopped up
  • ½ cup of artichoke (we used the jarred kind)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 basil leaves
  • Dash of olive oil
  • Dash of balsamic vinegar 
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • Naan Bread
  • Fill in the blank toppings (i.e. kale, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, sautéed tempeh)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Soak the cashews for an hour in a bowl of water. Soaking softens the cashews before processing them to a creamier saucy texture.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375.
  3. Cut up the tomatoes and artichokes and pour in a bowl.
  4. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon. Toss mixture together.
  5. Pour mixture on a baking pan.
  6. Roast for 30 minutes.
  7. Once the hour is up on your cashew-soaking, you can make your sauce.
  8. Chop up the two cloves of garlic in a food processor. Then add basil leaves, half of the roasted tomatoes, and pulsate. Add cashews (soaked and drained), lemon, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. You want it to be smooth and taste good (so make sure to taste it).
  9. Pour sauce over the Naan bread and add a few toppings. We added chopped mushrooms, a few leaves of kale and already-roasted red peppers from the jar.
  10. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes.
  11. EAT!

CHERRY PIE

I would love to say that we perfected the Cherry Pie, but this recipe was definitely more of an art project. We decided to Frankenstein a few different cherry pie recipes together, and pretty much ended up just throwing ingredients in, hoping it would work out. I must be honest; it did not turn out perfect. Which was just a reminder of why I prefer cooking to baking. Cooking is not a perfect science and you can just go with what tastes good. Not so for baking.

Our cherry pie ended up being a mushy, saucy cherry and pomegranate mixture, set in a bowl of already-made organic piecrust. The taste was tart and juicy, and not too sweet because we didn’t see the need to add a lot of sugar. Instead we added mushed banana for a more natural sugar and creamier substance. So essentially, it was a pie-full of antioxidants and potassium, with very little sugar. And you know what – It did not taste bad. But, overall, the recipe is nowhere near ready to be shared with you here. Even after leaving it to set overnight, it never formed into a pie. It just stayed a soup. At the end of the day, the experiment recipes, for me, are just as beneficial as the successful ones because I learn what not to do. C’est la vie!

Can’t wait till the next cooking adventure. Does anybody have any adventurous health recipes that interest them, but don’t want to invest in making them yourself? Let me know! I’ll try it for you. 

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