Food for Thought
Even if you’re not a vegan eater, the recipes in The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples (Ten Speed Press 2015) will be game changers in your bag of kitchen tricks. Author Miyoko Schinner raises the bar on plant-forward cuisine by making her handcrafted food approachable for readers interested in lighter, healthier fare without the overprocessed or unrecognizable ingredients found in many prepared vegan and vegetarian foods.
This recipe renders a vibrant, piquant green sauce that looks like pesto and yet delivers a surprising bite from the capers. It’s oil-free and more nutrient-dense than its pesto cousin. “A whole head of spinach goes into this sauce, so it’s a great way to eat your veggies,” writes Schinner in the recipe foreword. “And it’s raw with no need to heat, so it takes but 30 seconds to whip up!”
She suggests serving it over any kind of pasta, but she adds that it’s particularly good over her buckwheat pasta (another recipe in the book).
1⁄2 C cashews
11⁄2 C water
1⁄2 C raw walnuts
4–5 cloves garlic
1⁄4 C capers
1 C loosely packed cilantro
1 C loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 bunch spinach, washed well and roughly chopped
C = cup
Place the cashews and water in a blender and process until very creamy and smooth. Remove about 1⁄2 C of this cashew cream and set aside. You may or may not need all of it. Add the walnuts, 4 cloves of garlic (or more, depending on how garlicky you like it), capers, cilantro and basil to the blender and pulse briefly to chop. Add the spinach a handful at a time until it is incorporated. If the sauce is very thick, you can add the remaining cashew cream, or you can make it lower in fat by adding the cooking water from the pasta. It should have a thick, but pourable, consistency. Season to taste with salt, and adjust the other seasonings as well, adding another tablespoon of capers, a clove of garlic or more basil as desired. Toss with hot pasta and serve.
Spinach and Caper Sauce is best eaten when freshly made. You can keep leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for a day or two.
Makes about 4 cups, enough for 4–6 servings.
Source: Reprinted from The Homemade Vegan Pantry. Copyright © 2015 by Miyoko Schinner. Book cover photograph © 2015 by Eva Kolenko. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.