Raw Tuesday recipes: pasta pesto and persimmon tartlets

Raw vegan pasta pesto

I’m happy to see that the arrival of “winter” in Johannesburg hasn’t dampened people’s interest in raw food. It can be challenging to stay raw when the weather gets cold, but the fact that most winter days here are sunny and warm surely helps. Incidentally, we’ll be offering a “Winter Warmers” workshop on the 26th of May. If you’re keen to learn tricks and recipes for warming raw foods that keep you going in winter, there are still a couple of spaces left.

Raw pasta is one of those miracles of the raw food world that seems completely alien when you first hear about it, but then becomes totally normal and comforting once you get used to it. The options are endless– you can make long noodles (with a spiralizer, mandoline or peeler) from all sorts of different vegetables, as well as ravioli or lasagna. You can do tomato sauce, cheesy/creamy sauces, pesto or Asian-style noodles. This week’s recipe is a simple, classic pesto Genovese with a twist. I’ve shared it before, but since the oldest posts on this site seem to be difficult to access, I’ll share it again here.

Pasta pesto (4 servings)

12 baby marrows (zucchini/courgette), or 16 if they’re very small

16 baby tomatoes, halved

12 sun-dried tomatoes (NOT packed in oil), diced

1 red bell pepper, sliced thin

Kalahari salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 TB basil-spinach pesto (see below)

Instructions: Peel your baby marrows, cut off the ends and then use a mandoline, spiraliser or a peeler to make them into long noodles. Set these aside in a colander (tossed with a little bit of salt) while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Toss noodles with pesto until evenly coated. Add tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and peppers and toss to combine.

Basil-spinach pesto (makes 3-4 servings)

A traditional pesto Genovese is made from basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and salt– usually parmesan cheese as well. I’ve modified that to be healthier and cheaper, but just as tasty. The pine nuts are replaced by pumpkin seeds, which are easier to find, less expensive and packed with important nutrients. Naturally the cheese is omitted. And spinach replaces half of the basil leaves, to increase the nutritional value. The result is delicious and extremely versatile, I promise you. Use it on pasta, on raw crackers, or as a dip for crudites.

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, soaked at least 4 hours

1 clove garlic

1 cup fresh basil

1 cup fresh spinach

1/6 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of Kalahari salt (or Himalayan or sea salt)

Instructions: Process pumpkin seeds in food processor until ground. Add remaining ingredients (except olive oil) and process until mixed. While the food processor is running, add the olive oil and process until mixed.

Persimmon or sharon fruit

Persimmon tartlet (not the best photo, sorry)

Persimmon tartlet

For those who don’t know, persimmon is a delicious fruit with a sweet, slightly cinnamon flavour. Different varieties have different textures, ranging from very firm to incredibly soft and juicy, but they all taste wonderful. The ones most commonly available in SA are the type pictured above, and are sometimes called Sharon fruit. They’re great in smoothies, fruit salads, or as dessert. Irish moss is an amazing sea vegetable that is used as a raw thickener. It’s non-raw commercial name is carageenan. If you can’t get it, you can use additional coconut oil to thicken this recipe, or even try 1/2 cup of cashews for a creamier persimmon mousse.

1 almond crust (1 cup almonds, 1/2 cup dates, pinch vanilla, pinch salt– ground into a dough in food processor)

1 oz (by weight) soaked Irish moss (sorry, if you’re in SA you still can’t get this and should double the amount of coconut oil instead)

1 cup water

8 small persimmons, peeled

1/2 cup agave

pinch Kalahari salt

pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Instructions: Press nut crust into the bottom of a pie tin, or into individual tart molds/ silicone muffin cups, and keep in freezer while preparing filling.

Blend Irish moss and water in the blender until it forms a paste. Add persimmons, agave, salt and cinnamon and blend until combined. Add coconut oil last and blend until combined. Pour filling into crust and set in refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

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