So. Raw, Vegan Food. Doesn’t exactly inspire lusty salivation. Especially not in the middle of a cold, sharp winter. I have nothing against shunning meat – why, some of my best friends are vegetarian! But I feel it’s a bit like deep-frying and haircuts and hiking: better done by other people. And I suppose I can see the thought process behind veganism, you know, don’t harm animals, sustainability, etc. But two crucial words: no butter. It just seems so strident, so militant, so charmless. And is there anything more unloveable than forced-smile cupcakes made with a cup of mollasses and powdered egg replacement?
I’m hoping here that the vegan community doesn’t rise up with fists and come to bludgeon me with a sustainably produced baseball bat. What I’m trying to say is, while I don’t think a life without butter (don’t get me started on cheese) is really a life lived, I do, despite appearances, love diversity and finding new recipes and being healthy. Some of the best places to look for these are vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, because of what they lack a certain fresh inventiveness is inherantly required. And this is where my raw, vegan stint came in.
It’s not difficult to imagine the benefits of a raw vegan diet. No nutrients lost, no consumption of anything even vaguely guilt-inducing, no animal fats. I also absolutely could not live off it. For one thing, how would Tim get his carbohydrates? Raw potato, methinks, is not that appetising. And I have no desire to create “cakes” using a dehydrator. But there is a wealth of interesting stuff out there, a particular favourite of mine being the above salad. It was ambitiously labelled a “tagine” on the original site I found it on but…it’s a salad. It’s filling and delicious though, and almost indecently healthy, which is something I always appreciate. I give you my adapted recipe.
Raw Cauliflower Salad
1/2 a good sized head of cauli
a small handful each of dried apricots and dates
1/4 cup nuts – pistachios are good, as are brazils
Basically, you need to chop everything Very Small. That’s all. It’s a bit of a pain, but try to enjoy it as part of the cooking process. Mix everything along with the poppy seeds in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. This is better the next day and makes quite a lot.
1 T tamarind paste, soaked in 1/2 cup water for 30 mins
1 T olive oil
1 T ground tumeric
2 t cumin seeds
1 t coriander seeds
Using a pestle and mortar, bash up the seeds with the olive oil. You could of course, use ground spices and a fork. Add the tamarind water and tumeric, and carefully pour over the salad, mixing it thoroughly (I find a spatula useful here, for scraping out the dressing from the pestle and mortar and mixing the salad without flinging.) Add salt, you’ll probably want a good amount, plus lashings of coriander and mint, which really make this work.
Seriously, this is very good stuff. I happily ate it as dinner in its entirety (along with some rice for Tim) and…it also goes surprisingly well with proper pork sausages. Another recipe I tried but photographed badly was merely a large beetroot, topped, chopped, and blitzed in the food processor. I stirred in lots of sea salt and coriander and served it as is – we both loved it. Beetroot is so good for you and so cheap this time of year.
Above: This is, of course, Nigella’s classically brilliant Thai Cole Slaw, which I’ve made about a squillion times. You can find a rough guide to the recipe here in one of my much-older posts. And, also composed entirely of raw vegetables and various flavourings.
This is not something I could stick to – as you can tell by my posts about ice cream – but I’ve had fun finding recipes and there’s nothing wrong with eating things as fresh and untampered with as possible. I imagine that the cauliflower salad would be fabulous at a buffet dinner, or as an unorthodox inclusion on the Christmas table (perhaps more applicable to a sunny New Zealand Yuletide though) or just in the fridge for picking at when peckish as one inevitably is 24/7.
I gotta say though, there are some…interesting raw folk out there on the internet. Reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons, where Lisa has the crush on the hardcore vegetarian, who doesn’t eat “anything that casts a shadow.” Hee!
Back to the real world. These are of course, cooked, but quite healthy…I like to keep a stash of muffins in the freezer for if Tim gets low blood sugar or needs a boost. Freezing them is a good way of making sure they don’t get absent-mindedly inhaled (you know how that happens) and it is a good excuse for me to happily potter round the kitchen with butter and sugar without feeling as though I’m contributing to Tim going blind or gangrenous one day (diabetes is a slow but harsh mistress.)