A good friend of ours makes a disgustingly delicious dish comprised of nothing more than asparagus, goat cheese, salt and pepper, and a bit of high quality olive oil. He absolutely smothers the spears in loads of creamy goat cheese and then puts them in the oven until the cheese browns and the asparagus becomes a vibrant green. It's decadent, delicious, a total crowd pleaser, and way too guilty for regular consumption. Cholesterol anyone? My wheels started turning yesterday about what I could make as a alternative creamy accompaniment to asparagus spears, and after an afternoon of thinking and walking, the cashew finally came to mind.
Nutritionally, cashews are high in phytosterols, which lower LDL cholesterol, and they're also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. And as if that's not enough, they're full of antioxidants and protein. And if THAT's not enough, they're rich and delicious and super creamy when pureed. You may remember Cashew Cream Frosting?
This is a savory cashew cream, prepared at room temperature in a matter of minutes. It would be a great accompaniment to any roasted vegetable dish, pilaf, or even thinned down to use as a salad dressing. I served it here with asparagus (preparation method follows), over a pile of quinoa with parsley, spring onion, and a bit of the cashew cream stirred into it.This recipe, and many variations on it, comes from an amazing new addition to my cookbook shelf; The Millennium Cookbook. It's filled with beautiful, refined, nutritionally minded, vegan recipes. Definitely worth a look, especially if you have someone to impress or are looking to put your fancy pants on.
Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream
1/2 to 2/3 cup RAW cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp miso
1/2 cup water
2-3 cloves roasted garlic
1-2 T fresh herbs of choice (thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, etc)
1/4 t nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
- Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve! Store excess in an airtight container for up to four days.
Easy Steam-Baked Asparagus
salt and pepper
light drizzle of grapeseed or other high heat oil
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Clean asparagus and break off the woody tips.
- Place asparagus in a rimmed baking sheet along with about a cup of water - just enough to thinly cover the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a small drizzle of oil.
- Bake until asparagus are vibrant green, and starting to brown on the tips - about 10 minutes.