Almond Ricotta

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Almond Ricotta is so easy to make and is a great non dairy alternative.  Almond Ricotta can sell for up to $9.00 for a 4 oz package at Whole Foods Market, but you can make it at home for a fraction of the price.  The recipe does require a high speed powerful blender and just a little planning ahead.  To create the creamy, dreamy texture of ricotta, the almonds must be soft, so an overnight soak of raw slivered blanched (skins removed) almonds is ideal. There are quick soak methods, using hot water to soften but I have always done an overnight soak. Once the soaking is done and the almonds are drained and rinsed, the blender does all of the work.  Almond Ricotta may be dotted onto a baked pizza, or used to finish pasta dishes. Once the ricotta is added then place the pizza or pasta back in the oven just to warm the ricotta. Pictured above is a Spaghetti Squash Casserole which was warmed in a sauté pan, placed in a baking dish, topped with the cold Almond Ricotta and heated just to warm in the oven.  I finished the dish with some freshly chopped basil.  Preparing nut cheese requires food safety.  I always keep my almonds in the refrigerator during the soaking process and also refrigerate after the Ricotta is made. The Ricotta is perishable so keep in refrigerated for no more than 3-4 days.

Recipe-Yields approximately 1 cup of Almond Ricotta

Time: 8 hours/overnight soak, plus 5 minutes to blend and

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raw blanched slivered almonds
  • Spring Water for soaking and for blending (approximately 1-2 cups)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place blanched slivered almonds in a 1 cup glass measuring cup or other container.  Pour spring water over the almonds until fully submerged with about  1-2 inches of additional water over the top of the almonds. The almonds will slightly expand when soaking.  Cover container with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  2. ***Very Important Step*** Make sure to drain and rinse the almonds well in a colander or strainer ***Do not use soaking liquid
  3. Place the blanched almonds in the blender with a few pinches of salt and pepper and blend on high speed with 1/4 cup of water to start and then drizzle in more water while blending until you get the consistency of ricotta. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use.

***Blender note: a narrow base blender jar works better than a wide base jar due to the small volume of ricotta made in this recipe. I have used a wide base jar, but just have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times to get the consistency I am looking for.

 

 

Curried Wheatberry Salad

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We tasted a similar salad at Whole Foods and fell in love with the flavors and textures of this salad which is non dairy and vegetarian and oil free. If you substitute the honey for a plant based sweetener such as maple syrup of agave this delicious grain salad would be vegan. Packed full of protein and flavors, this makes a great lunch.

This was my first attempt at cooking wheatberries.  The directions on the package said to soak overnight but I also read that the overnight soak is not completely necessary so I skipped the soaking step and boiled them. If I have the time I will attempt to soak overnight next time for comparison. I used one cup of hard red wheatberries and boiled them in 3 1/2 cups water for about 50 minutes until the texture was soft but still chewy.

I drained and cooled the wheatberries and then put them in the refrigerator until I was ready to assemble the salad.

Recipe Yields approximately 6 cups:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked wheatberries, cooked in 3 1/2 cups water until soft but chewy. Bring the water to boil, add wheatberries, cook on low/ slow rolling boil for 50 minutes or until done and then drain and cool (can be made a day ahead)
  • 3 small seedless Persian Cucumbers cut into small dice
  • 1/2 of a Red Bell Pepper cut into a small dice
  • 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup finely diced Red Onion depending on how much raw red onion taste you like
  • 1/2 cup of cooked and shelled Edamame
  • 1/2 cup Blanched Slivered Almonds
  • 1/2 cup Zante Currants
  • 1/8 cup Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 2 Tbls. chopped fresh Parsley
  • 2 Tbls. chopped fresh Cilantro

For Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup Honey (or for a vegan option use maple syrup or agave)
  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 1 1/2 Tbls. Dijon Mustard
  • 1/8 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic pressed in garlic press or very finely chopped
  • 1 Tbls. Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Tumeric Powder

Directions:

Prepare the dressing and whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. Taste and season with salt if desired.  After the wheatberries have been cooked, drained, and cooled, toss the wheatberries with the dressing to desired consistency (the dressing may be just enough or you may have a few tablespoons left over depending on how heavily dressed you would like the salad).  Add all of the the remaining ingredients such as the chopped vegetables, sesame seeds, currants, almonds, and herbs and gently stir till combined. Refrigerate and Enjoy!