INSALATA CAPRESE (raw-vegan)
One thing that I have found while being on a raw vegan diet, is realizing how much dairy and meat I used to eat. Most of our traditional dishes are centered around these items no matter what heritage we are from. Although I have cut out dairy and meat from my diet, I sometimes miss the traditional dishes my family used to make. The dish I miss most is the antipasto, the appetizers we used to eat before the main meal. One of my favorite antipasto dishes is INSALATA CAPRESE. Since I no longer eat dairy cheese, I decided to recreate this classic by using my three nut cheese instead of fresh buffalo mozzarella. The results are AMAZING! Not only does this dish have all of the flavor that I crave, I know that it is a much healthier version that I won’t be shy with…. second helping anyone? I am confident that once you try this recipe you will never want to go back to the OLD WAYS! Start a NEW tradition at your next family gathering or dinner party with this insalata caprese antipasto. As they say in Italian–“Mangiare, Mangiare”!
2 large organic vine ripe tomatoes, be sure to pick ones that are vibrant red, firm with no blemishes and the vine still attached
8 large fresh organic basil leaves
1/2 cup of raw three nut cheese (recipe below)
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pink salt
organic unrefined cold pressed raw olive oil (be sure to check the label)
In a small bowl, gently mash the three nut cheese with the pink salt and set aside. On a flat surface- lay your tomato on its side. Cut the top off under the vine nub without removing the vine from the top piece (as shown in the picture above), reserve for the garnish. Cut the rest of the tomato into thin slices (1/4 inch thick). Repeat with your other tomato the same way, you should get 5 to 6 slices from each tomato. Now chiffonade the basil leaves [stack leaves on each other, roll tightly lengthwise and thin slice the roll width-wise to make thin ribbons as shown above.] and set aside. On your serving platter, lay 1/2 of the tomatoes slice down in a single layer. Now crumble 1/2 of the cheese evenly over the tomatoes. Top with 1/2 of the chiffonade basil. Next- layer the rest of the tomatoes slightly off set (like shown in the picture), evenly crumble the rest of the cheese on them and evenly top with the remaining basil. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. I like to use the tomato tops with the vines still attached to them for garnish on the platter. Serve immediately.
recipe for three nut cheese: makes about 1 1/2 cups
This cheese is great if you are looking for a crumbled consistency in your nut cheese. The total process takes 5 days but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day…trust me the results are worth it.
A CHEF’S TIP: always use whole nuts in your recipes. When producers sell whole nuts, the nuts have to be flawless, firm and top quality. This is the best quality of nut you can buy thus producing the best quality results in your recipes.
1/3 cup organic raw whole almonds
1/3 cup organic raw whole hazelnuts
2/3 cup organic raw whole cashews
water for soaking
1 1/4 cup water
3 TBSP raw organic cider vinegar
In a large bowl, put all of the nuts in and cover 2 inches above the nuts with cold water. Soak your nuts for 72 hours at room temperature, change the water every 24 hours. Drain and rinse well. In your blender, add the nuts and 1 1/4 cup water, blend on high until smooth. Now add the cider vinegar and blend on high for 1 minute. Spoon the mixture into the center of a clean large 12 x 12 tight woven cotton kitchen cloth, smooth out the mixture into a rectangle shape to 2 inches from the edge of the cloth. Cover with another cloth, fold the sides of the bottom cloth up onto the top cloth to seal the sides, Now fold over itself in half . In a large baking dish,place a flat drip rack or cooling rack in the bottom and cover with a sushi rolling mat. Be sure to lay the sushi rolling mat in a direction that it wont fall into the rack slots. Lay your folded cheese filled cloth package on the sushi rolling mat. Allow to ferment at room temperature for 3 hours. Now find a small sheet pan that will cover the package, place it flat side down on top of the package. Add weight to it to press it (I used jars of water on the sheet pan), be sure to distribute the weight as evenly as possible. You can also use another flat bottom pan filled half way with water instead. NOTE: you will only need about 5 pounds of water [2 1/2 quarts of water]. Press for 48 hours at room temperature. Remove the weight and gently unfold and unwrap the cheese. Now your cheese is ready to eat, use in your recipes or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 1 week.