Not too long ago, I had the kale quinoa salad from Terra Verde Organic. I guess I expected it to be like most kale salads, hearty and healthy. What I didn’t expect was how the generous spoon of cashew cream that comes alongside the greens, almonds, dried cherries, quinoa and lemon dressing took the salad to the next level and beyond. It had the texture of hummus, but tasted lighter, brighter and more decadent. Before I had even finished lunch, the wheels had started turning, and I was trying to figure out how I could re-create this creamy delight.
I’ve made cashew creams before, but always from a dessert perspective and never like this. As my craving for the silky combination of cashew and lemon had me tinkering in the kitchen to come up with my best imitation, I ended up with a recipe surprisingly similar to hummus. If only I would have noticed that Terra Verde (851 West San Mateo Road in Santa Fe, terraverdeorganic.com) posts all ingredients on its website, I might have saved myself some mad-science time in the kitchen. Terra Verde’s approach is brilliantly straightforward (cashews, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and black pepper), but at the end of the day, I’m grateful to have gone on this journey and found my way to a new flavor treasure.
In the recipe, you’ll notice that it calls for using zest from two lemons but juice from only one. Place the extra zested lemon in the fridge for using later and it will be fine for a few days.
Cashew hummus can be used as a dip, spread or even thinned out with water and/or lemon to make it more of a sauce. I recently have been spreading it on grilled slices of bread with sliced fresh basil, a crack of sea salt and red chile flakes. It’s also a perfect dip for veggies or fruit, a spread for sandwiches and, of course, my new favorite accompaniment for kale salads.
Makes: 2½ cups;
total time: 30 minutes
2 cups raw cashew pieces
3 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat, add the cashews, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
Add the soaked cashews, garlic, tahini, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, zest, water and a pinch of salt to a food processor. Blend until smooth. If you are using a blender, you might need to add a few more tablespoons of water to get it all to blend together. Taste and season with salt as needed.