I get a lot of my cooking inspiration from restaurant menus, normally not vegan or even vegetarian restaurants. I love being able to take a dish containing animal products and make it vegan-it’s sort of my gentler way of putting two fingers up and saying “ha, I don’t need your animal products- I made your dish better- for us, the planet and the animals!”
This “Beetroot & Sweet Potato Salad with Baked Cashew Cheese” is my take on the beetroot & goat’s cheese salad I’ve been seeing on menus all over the place.
Eliminating cheese is a doddle when you’ve got cashews, the magical nut! I usually use cashews for creamy sauces and spreads, but to replicate goat’s cheese’s crumbly texture I baked my blended mixture to dry it out, taking this recipe as my starting point.
I used the same recipe back in the summer for my Herby Courgette Galette recipe (Please excuse the terrible pictures, photography’s been a steep learning curve!) and learnt then that straining the cheese didn’t achieve much so I skipped that step this time.
Here’s what my little ramekin of cheese looked like out of the oven.
- 1/3 C (Heaped) Cashews, soaked, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp Neutral Oil (I used Organic Sunflower)
- 1 Tbsp Water
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or high-power blender for 5 minutes (This helps the cheese firm up so even if it’s smooth blend for the full amount of time).
- Pour into a lined/oiled ramekin. Bake for approx 25 minutes, until firm on top and beginning to turn golden.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely in the fridge.
- *This makes twice the amount you need for the salad but it’s nice to use in other dishes too)
To turn this into a meal-worthy salad I bulked it up with roasted sweet potato chunks, some spicy rocket leaves and a scattering of toasted pine nuts. Simply delicious.
- 3 Medium-size Beetroot
- 2 Medium-size Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 2” chunks
- 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Sprig of Thyme
- 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 3/4 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1-1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Parsley, coarsely chopped
- Handful of Rocket leaves
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Pine Nuts OR walnuts, toasted
- 50g/2oz/1/2 Recipe Cashew Cheese (See Above), crumbled
- Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F
- I like to roast beetroot using the tin-foil method. Alternatively, if you want to avoid getting messy, you can also use the pre-cooked kind (usually found in vacuum packs).
- Drizzle sweet potato chunks with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and spread in a roasting pan with the thyme. Roast for approx 25 minutes, until soft and golden.
- Meanwhile, whisk mustard, vinegar and olive oil together for the dressing.
- Peel and chop cooked, peeled beetroot into chunks the same size as the sweet potato.
- In a large bowl, toss the beetroot and sweet potato with the dressing. Add the parsley and rocket, salt and pepper to taste and toss again. (You can either wait until the roasted vegetables are cool to do this or eat the salad warm, in which case the rocket will wilt).
- Remove to a serving dish and top with the toasted pine nuts and crumbled cashew cheese.
Have you successfully veganized any dishes you’ve seen on restaurant menus? Or have you got any you’d like to challenge me to veganize?!
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