All of you Whole30 participants know that discovering new foods that you can actually eat while staying on plan is a fantastic experience. We had one such experience while visiting a local health food store in Fort Walton Beach, FL. While browsing the produce section, we discovered a hummus substitute made not from chickpeas, but from cashews. The ingredients were 100% Whole30 approved, and included a base of cashews mixed with olive oil and a ton of fresh herbs and spices. The locally-made 6 0z. tub was expensive as heck, but we bought it anyway, happy to have something new to try that day. We dipped all of our veggies in the spread, and deemed it a delicious once-in-a-while treat.*
*Once in a while because it’s a dense source of fat, and as easy to over-eat as any other nut or nut butter.
The trouble is, we searched health food stores far and wide all across the country over the next two months, and never again discovered a similar product. Undaunted, we did the only thing we could… and called in our resident (though virtual) Culinary Expert. Of course, we’re talking about our good friend and gourmet goddess Melissa Joulwan, of the blog The Clothes Make the Girl. We knew Mel could come up with a recipe for our cashew pate that would be just as good – if not better – than the original. Going on nothing but our description of the product, Mel created several varieties in her own laboratory (her Austin, TX kitchen), and enlisted some friends to taste-test the final product. Here are the results from Mel and group: “General consensus last night was that all of the varieties were tasty. The olive variety was my favorite – the lemon and tahini flavors really come through so it taste the most hummus-like… even more than the base recipe. Two others liked the roasted red pepper best, with the sun-dried tomato coming in a close second.”
We knew Mel could re-create our fabulous cashew pate, and we’re happy to share her unique creation with you here today. Here’s the base recipe, plus the info for making the different versions: plain, olive, roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water for at least three hours. Drain and rinse a few times, then drain well and place in food processor.
2. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and puree until well-blended. The texture will be very thick. Add water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness. (To make a dip that didn’t drip, use 1/2 to 3/4 cups of water – added gradually to get the right consistency. Less water makes it edible with a fork; lots of water would turn it into salad dressing.)
3. Sprinkle the top with freshly chopped parsley before serving.
4. For the variations, keep the base recipe the same and add the following:
- Olive: Add black olives to the mixture before blending. For canned olives, 20-30 is a good number. For fancier cured Greek olives, start with 10-15 and add more to taste.
- Roasted Red Pepper: Add 1-2 roasted red peppers and 1/2 teaspoon paptrika to the mixture before blending. To roast peppers, cook on a grill or under the broiler until charred and soft. Place in paper bag for 10 minutes, then peel. Or take the easy route, and buy them in a jar at the store.
- Sun-dried Tomato: Add 5-7 sun-dried tomatoes to the mixture before blending.
A big thank you to Mel for opening up her kitchen to us – and our readers – yet again. If you haven’t already, check out Mel’s fabulous “Dino-Chow recipes” on her web site, and get some inspiration to steal YOUR next meal!