A Long Summer Night’s Dinner
This menu started with the idea of making a raw vegan cheesecake, but then our guests turned out to be vegetarian instead of vegan, so I changed the course a little bit, to include different types of cheese. And since I am a big lover of cheese, I was quite excited. But I was also secretly happy that I had already made the cake, because I really love raw desserts, especially when they include berries.
I’m not going to pretend like this dinner didn’t take a lot of time to prepare, because it did. And in the heat wave we’re having, it wasn’t always enjoyable. I did kind of rush and that is why there aren’t that many photos. But what this post lacks in photos, is gained through recipes. And the process did become significantly more enjoyable when our guests arrived and a bottle of bubbly was popped right before I was finishing up the starters, which was a nice ending for the long cooking ordeal.
We sat down to dinner and shared pizzas topped with new potatoes and Roquefort, mozzarella and asparagus, as well as a big salad with pan-fried zucchini, pine nuts and feta. Our entrée was a spiced chickpea bake with marinated dakos and tomatoes, served with frisée salad and it was delicious! This dish is something I watched Yotam Ottolenghi cook on his TV show and was transfixed by how amazing the marriage between traditional Greek ingredients and Eastern spices sounded while he was explaining. I don’t own a TV and this happened while I was visiting friends and I admit I was completely sucked in by the screen and for the whole 30 minutes of the show, I did not budge. For dessert, we waited for the cheesecake to melt a little, before gulping it down, guiltlessly since it has no sugar and no dairy for that matter. I used organic lemons and blackberries for this cake and I have to say I think it does make a difference, especially when making something raw, because it gives you the opportunity to taste the fruit in all its richness and to reap all of its healthy nutrients. The original recipe uses raspberries and it’s from My New Roots, which is my No. 1 go to destination for healthy recipes. I’ve tweaked the recipe very little and I have to say it is one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made and it’s also fail-proof. Feel free to browse through the recipes below and I hope you pick something and try to make it, each and every dish was a delight!
Mozarella Asparagus Pizza and New Potato and Roquefort Pizza
For the dough:
For the dough (this makes two pizzas):
250g strong white bread flour
250g plain white flour
5g/1tsp powdered dried yeast
10g/1½ tsp salt
325 ml/1½ cups warm water
1 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, salt and water to form a sticky dough with your hands. Mix in the oil, then turn out on to a clean work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Shape into a round, and leave to rise in a clean bowl, covered with a clean damp kitchen towel, until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
For the topping:
3 Tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
Two large yellow onions
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10-12 spears of asparagus if using thin kind or 5 of the thicker kind
1 Mozarella ball, shredded
A little hard goat cheese, crumbled
1 tsp dried thyme
3-4 new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced (not too mushy)
100gr/3,5 oz Roquefort, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 250C/500F. Line your baking tray with baking paper. In a skillet set over medium heat, place the olive oil and once hot, sautée onion and garlic until translucent and sweaty. Season with salt and pepper. On a very clean and lightly floured surface, place half of your dough and roll into a round with the aid of a rolling pin. For your first pizza, spead half of the onion mixture all over the dough, scatter the asparagus spears and put the mozzarella shreds on top, followed by the crumbled goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. To make the second pizza, first add the thyme to the onion and garlic and give everything a mix. Spread the mixture all over the dough, place your potato slices on top, followed by the Roquefort. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Zucchini Ribbon Salad w Toasted Pine Nuts and Feta
A large handful of salad leaves (I used frisée salad, but arugula also works nice), washed and dried
Two large zucchinis, ribboned with the aid of a mandolin (thin rounds also work well)
1,5 tsp Dijon mustard
4 Tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
1,5 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Start by tossing your zucchini with a little bit of olive oil. In a non-stick pan set over medium heat, toss the zucchinis until they become a little golden-brown around the edges (you may have to do this in two batches). If you have time, fry them in a grilling pan instead, they are even nicer. Allow to cool. Make the vinaigrette by mixing together the olive oil, vinegar and mustard, then season with salt and pepper. On a large serving platter, place the salad, toss with the vinaigrette, add the cooked zucchinis, pine nuts and crumbled feta.
Baked Dakos with Spiced Chickpeas and Tomatoes
400g/14 oz chickpeas, soaked overnight with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150ml/5 fl oz. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp sweet paprika
3 tsp ground cumin
2½kg/5½ pounds ripe tomatoes
2 large red onions, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
600g/20 oz. dakos or Swedish krisprolls
500g/18 oz. feta, crumbled
30g/1oz basil leaves
For the marinade:
300ml/10fl. oz olive oil
100ml/3 fl.oz red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then place in a large pan with plenty of water, set over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half, skimming the foam once or twice. Simmer until the chickpeas are soft. Drain and set aside to cool. Add 4 Tblsp olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the chickpeas, spices and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring and lightly crushing the chickpeas, until they are soft. Set aside. Grate a third of the tomatoes and discard the skin. Dice the remaining tomatoes into 1cm/½in cubes. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and add the onions, garlic, 6 Tblsp of oil, 1 tsp salt and a little pepper. Set aside. To make the marinade, mix together the olive oil and vinegar with ½ tsp salt. Spread the dakos onto a large baking tray, in a single layer and close together. Drizzle the marinade all over and spoon the tomato mix on top, followed by the spiced chickpeas. Press the feta chunks between the bread and chickpeas. Scatter over the basil leaves, drizzle with the remaining 4 Tblsp of oil. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes and serve warm.
Raw Blackberry Cheesecake
For the crust:
¼ cup raw almonds
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup soft Medjool dates
¼ tsp. fine salt
Place nuts and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness. The crust is done when you roll a small quantity between your index finger and thumb and it sticks together. Place the crust mixture in an 20cm/8in spring-form pan (or a pie plate lined with cling film), press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is even.
For the filling:
1½ cups raw cashews, soaked overnight or for at least 5 hours
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup raw honey
1 cup blackberries
Mix melted coconut oil and honey with a whisk until well combined. In your blender or food processor, place all filling ingredients except blackberries and blend on high speed until completely smooth (a couple of minutes). Pour about 2/3 of the mixture on top of the crust and smooth it with the aid of a spatula. Add the blackberries to the remaining filling and blend on high speed until smooth. Pour on top of the first layer of filling. Decorate with some more berries and place in freezer until solid. Remove from the freezer 30 minutes prior to serving. To slice, use a sharp knife that’s been ran under hot water. Enjoy!