Raw food—meaning all ingredients are kept under 118°F—has become one of the “it” cuisines, and many gourmet raw restaurants are popping up around the world. There’s Pure Food and Wine in NYC and Saf in Europe. And upscale eateries that serve a more traditional menu, such as Charlie Trotter’s, have even offered raw tasting menus.
I know the thought of being forced to eat a raw meal, even at a fine dining joint, probably sounds like torture to many of you. We all saw that episode of Sex and the City where Samantha met Smith (I mean, Jerry), right? The girls weren’t too pleased with the food. Fortunately, they were just acting and raw food has actually developed into something that is at times delicious, sophisticated, and even indulgent. Don’t assume that it’s just juiced wheatgrass shots (another SATC episode all together), because it is much, much more.
One recipe that makes an appearance on many raw menus, from fine dining to corner casual, is cashew cheese. When allowed to ferment, it develops a depth of flavor that is lacking in many processed vegan cheeses, so it’s a great alternative for people who are looking for more complexity. One of the best ways to experience the full flavor is by serving it up like old-school cheese and crackers.
Try this recipe from the Charlie Trotter Raw cookbook, and for more on raw food, check out the profile of Sarma Melngailis, proprietor of Pure Food and Wine.
3 cups raw cashews
1/4 cup rejuvelac (see recipe below)
1/2 tsp. salt
- Soak the cashews in filtered water for 12 hours, then drain.
- Put the cashews in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Pour the blended cashews into a bowl and stir in the rejuvelac and salt, mixing well.
- Put a cheesecloth in a sieve over a bowl. Place the mixture on the cheesecloth and fold the excess cheesecloth over to cover the mixture. Leave in a warm place for 12 hours.
- Remove from the cheesecloth, shape the cheese, and place in a covered container. Refrigerate for 24 hours, or until firm.
1/2 cup rye or wheat berries
- In the evening, place the berries in a sprouting jar and fill the jar with water. Let stand overnight. The next morning, drain the berries and spread them on a sprouting rack (a plastic or glass rectangular container lined with wet paper towels can be substituted). Leave them to sprout for 1 to 2 days, rinsing them 3 times a day. They are ready when 1/4-inch “tails” have emerged.
- Place the sprouts in a wide container with at least 3-inch-high sides and add 4 cups filtered water. Let stand in a warm spot for 12 to 14 hours, or until the liquid smells slightly fermented.
- Strain off the liquid (this is the rejuvelac) into a clean jar. Use immediately, or cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The same sprouts can be used 3 more times to make more rejuvelac.