Asparagus and (Almond) Cheese Tart with Cornmeal Pastry

This works best with thin asparagus, otherwise you might want to roast them a bit, first. Plan ahead here — the almond cheese requires preparation a day in advance.

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Asparagus and (Almond) Cheese Tart with Cornmeal Pastry

For the Almond Cheese:
1 cup almonds
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh dill, plus more to taste
1 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

For the Crust:
1 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons coconut oil, slightly softened, but not liquid
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
About 1/4 cup ice water

For the Topping:
About 1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, washed and ends trimmed

To make the almond “cheese”, place the almonds in a glass bowl. Cover with enough water by about 3 inches. Soak overnight, at least 12 hours

The next day, rinse the almonds well with cold water. Use your fingers to squeeze off the almond skins. Rinse again and soak for an additional 2 to 3 hours. Sample, and add more dill, salt and lemon to taste.

After soaking, rinse the almonds well. Drain well. Place the almonds, garlic, oil, dill, lemon juice, salt and syrup in a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides when necessary. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, to let flavours meld together.

To make the crust, place the flour, cornmeal and sea salt in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add the coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. Pulse until there are pea-sized pieces of coconut oil among the flour. Turn the food processor on and add the water, a little at a time, just enough to make a cohesive dough. Gather the dough together, pat into a disc-shape, and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you plan to roll it. Preheat the oven to 375F.

Roll the dough into a large rectangle on a piece of parchment paper, about 8 inches by 10 inches. Use your fingers to crimp the edges into a crust. Transfer to a baking sheet and return to the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Spread the crust with the “cheese”. Top with the asparagus. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until browned. Serve at room temperature.

Portabello Pizzas with Almond Parmesan

Both the sauce and the parmesan can be made in advance, so putting these together will take just a few moments. As an alternative, chop all of the vegetables and roast them, then toss them with penne, the pizza sauce, and the almond parmesan for a deconstructed version.

Portobello Pizzas

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup  tomato paste
1/2 cup water
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons (10mL) dried basil
2 teaspoons (10mL) agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon (5mL) garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon (5mL) onion powder

For the Mushrooms:
6 portabello mushrooms
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

For the Almond Parmesan:
1/3 cup (60mL) whole almonds
3 tablespoons (45mL) nutritional yeast flakes
2 teaspoons (10mL) extra-virgin olive oil
Generous pinch of sea salt

Toppings:
Thinly sliced red bell pepper
Thinly sliced green bell pepper
Thinly sliced red onions
About 5 sundried tomatoes, not oil-packed, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes

To make the pizza sauce, put all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to medium heat and let cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand while preparing the other ingredients. This can be made in advance and the flavor improves as it stands.

To prepare the portabellos, preheat the oven to 425. Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil. Use a moist paper towel to wipe the portabellos clean, then use a fork to scrape out the gills. Put in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 10 minutes until almost tender, then flip and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes longer until cooked all the way through. Remove from the pan and let drain on paper towels. Drain any excess liquid from the pan.

To make the almond parmesan, put all of the ingredients in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely ground. You’ll use about half of the mixture in this recipe; store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

After the portabellos are drained, put them back in the pan. Spread pizza sauce inside each one (depending on the size of your portabellos, you might have leftover sauce. You can refrigerator or freeze it or use extra for dipping the mushrooms in). Top with the peppers, onion, and sundried tomatoes, or your other favorite toppings. Sprinkle generously with the almond parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake until toppings are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Pecan-Crusted Vegan Cheeseball

Making a vegan cheeseball might seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually just a quick whizz in the food process. No dairy analogs used here, the flavor comes from nuts, nutritional yeast, and a few seasonings and spices.

Pecan-Crusted Pate:Cheeseball

Pecan-Crusted Cheeseball (vegan)

1 cup almonds
1/2 package extra firm tofu, pressed of excess moisture
1/2 cup (24 g) nutritional yeast flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons (12 g) garlic powder
1 teaspoon (5 g) crushed thyme
1 teaspoon (5 g) dried oregano
Juice from half a lemon
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup (143 g) pecans, chopped into pieces

Place almonds in the food processor and whizz until finely ground. Add all remaining ingredients, except for pecans, and blend until smooth. Test for seasonings.

Spread chopped pecans onto a plate. Using your hands, form the almond/ tofu mixture into a ball, then roll in the pecans until coated. Wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to serve. (Overnight is best; you can do all of the steps without the pecans, then do that about an hour before serving).

Serve with vegetable sticks and crackers.