Inspiration behind the invention of this recipe stemmed from having a ripe avocado on hand and little more than a can of artichokes and wilted kale leaves, a fork, a couple of plastic containers, and a serving dish or two. Post recipe-development I looked throughout the blogosphere for vegan artichoke-spinach and/or kale dip. Much to my surprise I found several—some of which also use avocado as a base. Differentiating them from the recipe that follows, most call for a blender to combine all the ingredients. In my experience with developing recipes in the past, blenders don’t always function as the optimal appliance in the case of dips or any other dish for which the desired texture resembles something other than a purée. Don’t get me wrong—blenders and food processors work great in many cases, but mostly in the context of specific ingredients or single-ingredient recipes i.e. nut butters, tahini, nut and seed “milk” and “cheese”, vegan alfredo or creme/cream/crema, the mock-guac I blogged about the other day in which I substituted peas for avocado, or the recipe for raw vegan sun-dried tomato & sunflower seed pâté I created in college and would have shared the recipe for years ago if not for the fact that the nearby co-op mysteriously began to sell a pâté identical to it about a month after I invented it—which seemed very ‘twilight zone’ and seemed to border on plagiarism, yet I never shared recipe “secrets” and I certainly hadn’t blogged about it, since of course back then I only blogged on Blogger.com and god forbid, Myspace. I think I had a live-journal also, but that’s beside the point. I wonder if it still exists? Also beside the point. That said, management of one’s social-media persona has morphed into a conundrum that if not properly managed can open a pandora’s box of all the skeletons in one’s closet that suddenly grow wings and orbit your brain like flying monkeys or planets that circle the sun in an alt-universe where you are the sun and desperately want fewer planets to be your responsibility.
Now for the recipe:
Artichoke Dip w/Avocado + Kale
1 x 14oz can artichoke hearts
1 ripe avocado
2 Tbsp raw tahini
1 cup baby kale leaves, wilted
Drain artichoke hearts and mash with a fork to achieve a stringy texture. Set aside. Add the avocado and mash. I used a very ripe avocado that was soft enough to scoop out from the skin very easily—so I didn’t need to chop it first before mashing. If the avocado you use feels too firm to mash easily, I recommend chopping it first. However, I don’t know how well a less-than perfectly-ripe avocado would perform in this recipe.
Sprinkle in the kale leaves gradually, stirring/mashing to combine with the avocado-artichoke mixture. Squeeze in juice from the lime gradually also, tasting periodically to gauge the flavor. For the cayenne, do the same. Bear in mind that some people might have a different definition of “hot” than you do, if you plan to bring it as an appetizer to a party/gathering, potluck, or food-not-bombs event. It always comes as a surprise when strangers remind me that fewer than 100% of the individuals that populate the earth enjoy cayenne added to everything.
Serve with raw vegetables, and enjoy.
Day 4 in the paleo vegan mono diet challenge, I ventured outside my original plan to focus on cauliflower as the key ingredient or the “star” in recipes I develop this week. Today I decided to mix it up a little…but later realized I hadn’t strayed as far from the rules as I’d originally thought.
In theory, this recipe still adheres to the guidelines; the cauliflower crust is literally the foundation of the dish. I still managed to limit the ingredients to 5, if you count “grilled vegetables” as one ingredient. For this recipe I grilled 5 different vegetables including tomatoes (technically not a vegetable, but it functions as one in this recipe), all of which I used merely because I had them on hand. I encourage experimentation with different combinations of vegetables.
Considering my current goal of minimalist cooking (with 5 ingredients or fewer) I wish I’d limited the toppings to grilled tomatoes and a little basil. Anyway, whichever vegetable topping or combination you try–I hope you enjoy working with this virtually hassle-free recipe. As long as you have the cauliflower and dry ingredients for the crust, with 1 or more vegetables to grill for toppings; olive oil, garlic, and some herbs–I think it could serve as a reliable go-to recipe. Let me know of combinations you try. Take photos! Send them to me, and I’ll feature them here. Tell me about your blog or other endeavors so I can credit you and perhaps talk about guest blogging on paleoveganista.com, if you’re interested.
I used frozen cauliflower because I predicted that raw cauliflower might yield too grainy a texture. When I’ve tried to make cauliflower “rice” with cooked cauliflower, the blender quickly turned it into a puree. The crust for this recipe requires a rice-like (but not too grainy) texture, so as I predicted the frozen variety worked best.
Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Cauliflower Crust
For the crust
1 pound frozen cauliflower florets, left to thaw in the fridge overnight
3 tablespoons ground chia seeds or flax seeds (flax meal)
6 tablespoons water
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3-4 crimini mushrooms, sliced. *Tip: Crimini is merely a fancy term for brown mushrooms–the type sold at chain grocery stores. These tend to cost less than half the price per pound of portabella mushrooms–yet they’re the same thing, only smaller.
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
1 small zucchini and/or yellow squash, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
1 tsp crushed basil leaves
1 tsp oregano
Add 3 Tbsp ground chia or flax seeds to 1/3 cup warm water and set aside.
Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a small bowl or container. Add the garlic, rosemary, basil, and oregano. Set aside. Lightly salt the vegetables and let sit while you make the crust. This will help absorb excess moisture as they cook.
Remove cauliflower from the refrigerator and pulse in a food processor until a rice-like texture is achieved.
Use a cheesecloth or thin towel to squeeze out excess moisture from the cauliflower “rice”. Then transfer to a large bowl and add the chia/flax “egg”, the almond meal, the extra tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, salt, and garlic. Stir well to mix until it forms a dough. If it is too crumbly, add an additional tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, and 1-2 tablespoons water. Press the mixture into the parchment-lined 8″ round cake pan. If you don’t have a round cake pan, press the crust into a baking sheet or oven pan and use your hands to create a rounded or whatever shape you like. Make sure the crust is at least 1/4″ thick throughout. *Note: the parchment paper is important for removing the crust from the pan so it doesn’t fall apart.
Bake for 25 minutes at 400*F or until slightly golden around the edges. While the crust cooks, place the sliced, salted vegetables on a sheet pan, and brush with the garlic-herb infused olive oil. Next, turn them over and brush the other side.
Heat your grill to its highest setting and make sure it’s fully preheated before adding the vegetables. Turn the vegetables as they start to get grill marks or until the edges begin to darken.
Approximate cooking times:
Tomatoes, quartered: 4 to 5 minutes
Zucchini strips: 5 to 7 minutes
Mushrooms: 5 to 7 minutes
Onion, sliced: 5 to 7 minutes
Bell pepper strips: 6 to 8 minutes
Carrot slices: 10 to 12 minutes
Once vegetables have cooked, brush the cauliflower crust with the remaining garlic-herb olive oil and layer with grilled veggies. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.
I don’t typically eat potatoes. Occasionally I will indulge in a sweet potato or yam, but it always feels like wasted caloric intake because I don’t find them very exciting. In other words, I hardly ever have what some might call “potato cravings”. Though when I saw purple potatoes at the market today, I thought back to my travels in Ecuador and Peru and recalled how many potatoes I ate during that year. Purple potatoes are, in fact, native to the region that is now Peru. They are a heirloom variety, which is ironic for a few reasons. First of all, the term “heirloom” is defined as a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations and in the context of gardening it refers to a cultivar of a vegetable or fruit that is open-pollinated and is not grown widely for commercial purposes. The irony is that these potatoes, like many other “heirloom” varieties, have only very recently become known / available in the states (and other Western industrialized societies). Now many people are adapting and choosing to purchase heirloom varieties, yet for the most part they still seem like a novelty of sorts. The fact is, there are 3,800 varieties of potato in Peru alone, many of which are significantly higher in vital nutrients. So, in celebration of the fact that upwards of 3,800 varieties of potato exist outside the realm of what we expect to see in supermarkets i.e. russet, red, or yukon potatoes, I decided it was appropriate to make a traditional “American” dish using Peruvian Purple Potatoes. Continue reading