BLACK CHERRY TOMATO POPPERS (raw-vegan)
Well look at these cuties! Actually I can’t decide if they are cute or beautiful. Lately I have been exploring new foods, my goal is to try a new fruit or veggie a week. This week it has been trying new organic heirloom tomatoes, I LOVE tomatoes. At the market they have all different colors of heirloom cherry tomatoes so I picked up a basket of black cherry tomatoes. They actually are more of an eggplant color but who is complaining, they are still tomatoes. After staring at them for a couple of days trying to decide how to eat them, I figured an antipasti would be the best. Of course that is my favorite way to eat food anyway, so why not do one with them? Lucky for me I also just unwrapped a batch of fresh cashew cheese I made for another recipe; so the choice was obvious at that point. Now I looked around for a few extra items to complete this creation… AH, a Meyer lemon, basil in my window garden and a cherry bomb pepper will do the trick. After some chopping, zesting and stuffing I created BLACK CHERRY TOMATO POPPERS. We normally think of any food with the word “poppers” behind it to explode with flavor wrapped up in a small package , this does just that. All of the flavors not only are very distinct when you taste this combination but also compliment each other. I could go on and on about the different flavors on my palette when I eat them but I figure you probably should give this recipe a try for yourself.
MAKES 24 POPPERS, SERVES 6
1 cup fresh organic raw cashew cheese (see below for recipe)
24 medium to large ripe organic black cherry tomatoes
8 large fresh organic basil leaves
1 organic red cherry bomb pepper
1 large ripe organic Meyer lemon
1 medium organic cucumber, wash well, do NOT peel, remove ends
Place the cashew cheese in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Wash and de-stem the tomatoes. Lay them on their side and cut the top 1/3 off, reserve the tops for another recipe. Use a melon baller and gently remove the meat and seeds from the inside, be sure not to puncture the outer skin. Rinse well and drain, set aside, these are your tomato cups. Fine chop the basil and set aside. Fine chop the pepper and set aside. Zest the lemon and set aside. Juice the lemon and set aside. Use a vegetable peeler and make long ribbons out of the cucumber. Only do the skin and flesh down to the seeds. Reserve the seed center for another recipe. On your serving platter, arrange the ribbons into a bed to set your bombs onto. I like to curl them around my index finger to give them an interesting look. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator and spoon it into the tomato cups level with the top, be sure to fill but not over pack. Reserve the remaining cheese for another recipe. Use a damp paper towel and wipe the outside and rim to clean, set on a flat surface filled center up. Evenly sprinkle the filled cups with the chopped pepper. Now evenly sprinkle with the chopped basil. Last, evenly sprinkle with the lemon zest. Arrange on the bed of cucumber ribbons on your serving platter, nestle them in to stand them up. Put 2 drops of the lemon juice on each and evenly sprinkle the remaining lemon juice over the exposed cucumber ribbons. Be sure to tell your guests that the cucumber ribbons are edible too. Serve and enjoy!! NOTE: to do this ahead, simply cut all of the produce and refrigerate in separate containers. When you are ready to serve it, simple stuff the tomato cups, garnish and plate.
ORGANIC RAW CASHEW CHEESE
-2 cups whole raw organic cashews (buy whole cashews to ensure the best quality of nut thus best quality of cheese)
-1/4 cup raw organic apple cider vinegar
-1 small ripe organic lemon, reserve juice then save peel for another recipe
-1/3 cup water
-3 layers of cheese cloth about 8 inches long
-large rubber band
-deep container to hang the cheese ball from (read further)
In a large bowl, break your cashews into quarters then soak your cashew pieces in clean water for 16 hours. Drain the cashews and rinse well. In a blender blend on high the cashews, vinegar and lemon juice. Add the water 1 TBSP at a time, to ensure smoothness of the cheese. Be sure to blend to a creamy paste. Open up and then layer your cheese cloth together on top of each other. Spoon in the cheese into the center. Gather the sides of your cheese cloth up to make a pouch over the cheese and twist tie the top that is gathered tightly to the cheese but do not squeeze. Place the chop sticks on either side of the gather at the twist tie and rubber band it together so you can hang it. Find a container to suspend the cheese ball from to allow it to drain. It needs to be at least 2 inches deeper that the cheese ball. Suspend it using the chop sticks as its support across the opening of your container. Hang for 48 hours, drain the container if need be. Gently unwrap your cheese and place in a sealable container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.