Collard Wraps with Italian “Pizza Cheese”

by Gena on April 24, 2009

birds-eye-dinner

Today, my friends, you are going to learn two very important raw lessons:

1)    How to make nut pates and cheeses
2)    How to make collard wraps

Nut pates are one of the first things I teach new clients (and rawcurious friends) how to make at home. Why? Because they’re quick, delicious, and oh-so-versatile: you can use them in everything from wraps to sandwiches to salads to vegetable napoleons. Brimming with heart healthy fats and protein, they’re also a fun alternative to other soft spreads, like hummus, cream cheese, or refried beans.

What’s the difference between a nut pate and a nut cheese? Not much, except for consistency. I think of thicker mixtures  as pates; when you add more water (and make them softer), I think they begin to resemble cream cheese or even soft goat’s cheese.

You can adjust the flavors of these concoctions so that they mimic traditional recipes (I make a mushroom pate, for example, with soaked walnuts and spiced with thyme, that tastes a lot like the classic mushroom pate you might find as an appetizer at a dinner party; I also make a killer pine nut “ricotta”).

The basic idea is this: you soak a cup or two of nuts (1-2 hours for cashews, and overnight for almonds), throw them in a food processor with about ¼-1/2 tsp salt per cup nuts, and grind them till they’re in a pulp form. Then scrape the sides of the bowl and drizzle water in until the mix comes together and becomes smooth; if you’re looking for a chunkier mix, don’t process for too long. It’s a lot like making hummus in a food processor, and just as fast!

When I make nut cheeses, I always add a lot of lemon; this, to me, brings out the slightly sharp, tart taste I remember from regular cheese (it’s been a while, folks, so I’m not sure how accurate that memory is). I also feel free to add herbs, sun dried tomatoes, dill, black pepper, or whatever other kinds of mix-ins I’m in the mood for.

Tonight’s cheese recipe was one of my all time favorites: cashew ricotta with sun dried tomatoes and basil–AKA raw pizza cheese! It was Melissa who first noted that this cheese tastes a lot like pizza on a spoon. Pizza is, of course, another food I haven’t had in quite a long time, but I suspect she’s right. Regardless, this cheese is delicious, easy, and can be served in so many ways: stacked between layers of tomatoes and basil in a “napoleon,” in wraps as shown, or on top of zucchini pasta.

The recipe:

Cashew Ricotta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil (AKA Italian “Pizza Cheese”)

1 cup cashews, soaked for two hours or more
Juice of one lemon
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp white miso (optional)
4 sundried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup basil

Throw nuts in a food processor and process till ground well. Add salt, lemon juice, miso if using. Scrape sides of bowl and run processor again, this time drizzling some water in. Keep doing this until the cheese reaches the consistency you like. I aim for mine to look like ricotta:

cheese-in-processor

Add tomatoes and basil and pulse until they are well combined into the cheese:

cheese-close-up1

That’s it!

Serve as you like! This cheese is also great atop cucumber rounds or tomato slices as an appetizer. Last night I had some collards on hand for juicing that need to be used up, so I decided to make a favorite raw staple: collard wraps.

You may recall my 8 simple swaps post, where I suggested swapping collard leaves for regular old wraps. I can’t stress enough how great a tip this is: collard wraps are a light, healthy, and creative alternative to your usual wraps or tortillas. (If you follow food combining, these are a particularly great alternative to Ezekiel wraps because you can stuff them with nuts or proteins, rather than starches.)

A few of you emailed me after that post and asked how, exactly, you make collard wraps work. Here’s my trick.

Step one: de-vein the collard leave by slicing off the bottom of the stalk in a V formation and running your knife over the rest of the stalk to flatten the leaf, like so:

de-veined-collard

collard-cut

Step two: layer your cheese, pate, hummus, or other filling inside (I used about ¼ cup of the cheese), then pile veggies on top (here I used tomato, carrot, and some basil to complement the Italian flavor):

veggies-in-collard

Step three: fold the bottom and top over the filling:

wrap

Step four: fold the sides over, wrap, and roll!

roll

Chop off the tops on a diagonal if you want to look particularly fancy.

Of course you can use this technique for just about any kind of filling: a great recipe I’ll share soon is for a variation on Pure’s spicy thai lettuce wraps, which are stuffed with cabbage and carrot marinated in a spicy almond sauce. Hate the taste of raw collards? Well, I promise you’ll get used to it if you eat them more often! But if you’re shy, just go ahead and steam the collards for about two minutes: it’ll soften them and take any bitterness out.

I served these three wraps alongside a big salad of arugula, tomato, and lemon vinaigrette. Here’s the finished product:

dinner2

It was a delicious meal!

I really hope you’ll all begin experimenting, not only with collard wraps, but with all sorts of nut pates. To move you along, here are a few of my other favorites, which will undoubtedly make an appearance on the blog at some point:

Sunflower Seed Pate (adapted from Nomi Shannon)

1 ½ cup sunflower seeds, soaked 8-12 hours.
1/3-½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Handful chopped scallions
3 Tbs raw tahini
1 Tbsp Nama Shoyu
salt with add’l water, or none at all
¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
Sprinkle cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

Soak sunflower seeds 8-12 hours, drain, then thoroughly rinse and drain. In a food processor, process the sunflower seeds, lemon juice, scallions, tahini, shoyu, parsley, and cayenne with a drizzle of water until the mixture is a smooth paste.

When thoroughly blended taste and adjust the seasoning.

Ani Phyo’s Ginger Almond Pate (from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen)

1 Tablespoon ginger
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup almonds, dry
1 lemon’s juice
1/4 cup filtered water

Follow same technique as with other pates: combine all ingredients but water in processor, process, and then add water till desired consistency is reached. Delicious!

Raw Walnut Pate

2 cups walnuts, soaked
2 garlic cloves
2 green onions
1 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon oregano
2 stalks celery
2 tablespoons miso
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt

Directions:

Chop all ingredients, then blend to an even consistency in a food processor with water as needed.

Let me know what you create! And have a happy Friday, all.

xo

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

VeggieGirl April 24, 2009 at 7:05 am

LOOOOOVE these tutorials!! I always use collards or swiss chard as wraps (since gluten-free wraps usually taste like cardboard), and I appreciate your wrapping techniques :-) And hooray for SOY-FREE “cheese”!!

Happy Friday!!

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Laura April 24, 2009 at 7:34 am

Thanks for the tutorial and pate recipes! I’ve been wanting to try collard wraps for a while now, just haven’t worked up the nerve. :) I’ve been afraid of them tasting too bitter, which is kind of silly because I tend to like dark greens.

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Gena April 24, 2009 at 11:39 am

They’re very palatable, Laura, trust me! Glad you liked the post.

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ashley (sweet & natural) April 24, 2009 at 8:47 am

Thanks for these recipes! The pizza cheese sounds absolutely amazing. I recently made almond butter for the first time, so I am confident I could apply those skills to this! :-P

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Gena April 24, 2009 at 11:39 am

I have faith in you, Ash :)

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Bianca- Vegan Crunk April 24, 2009 at 9:07 am

Nut cheezes are my favorite raw food dish! In fact, on my raw days, I probably overdo the nuts a little bit, but in real life, I also overdo proteins and carbs, so it’s fitting that I would do the equivalent of that with raw foods. Your pizza cheeze looks super creamy. I’ll remember this recipe for later use. Thanks!

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Gena April 24, 2009 at 11:40 am

Hey B! Yeah, they’re amazing. I’m happier with avocado based dishes 90% of the time (ha! in case you hadn’t noticed), but nothing beats some great nut cheese once in a while.

And good point: it’s important to remember that excesses eating raw aren’t always flaws of the diet: ANY diet can lend itself to excess.

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Shelby April 24, 2009 at 10:28 am

Mmm, that cheese sounds great! I’ve never tried nut cheese but this looks so easy and quick to make. Thanks for the recipe!

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Jenna April 24, 2009 at 10:47 am

All your recipes look great! I can’t wait to try some!! :) This weekend sounds like a good time to try some wraps :) Thank you they look so good!

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Gena April 24, 2009 at 11:41 am

Give it a shot, Jenna!

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Stacie April 24, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I have a standard ‘nut cheese’ that I use a lot, but I never realized that the pate was basically the same thing.

I’m going to have to get more creative……….

Thanks,

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Nicole April 24, 2009 at 6:27 pm

These look awesome…I’ve never had nut cheese/pate before and can’t wait to try…do they have a shelf life or do you make a new batch for each meal?

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Gena April 24, 2009 at 8:03 pm

They are! And the cheese will keep a week or so in the fridge :)

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earthmother April 24, 2009 at 8:23 pm

You had me at “pizza on a spoon!” :D

I’ve tried Nomi’s and Ani’s before and really enjoy them both.

Another great tip is when you make fresh nut milks, save the pulp after you squeeeeeeze your nut milk bag out, and make some yummy cheese with it.

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Melomeals: Vegan For $3.33 a Day April 25, 2009 at 4:58 am

I just adore collard wraps…. they are the most satisfying food to me..

I think people are amazed at how delicious they are once they get over the fear of trying one!

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Tara April 25, 2009 at 6:01 am

Thanks for the recipes!

I have to admit… a part of me is afraid to eat that many nuts because I’ve been told forever that they are “fattening.” I know it’s not true, but it’s just such a hard thing to get over!

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Gena April 25, 2009 at 8:40 am

Tara,

I urge you not to think this way!! Nuts are tremendously healthy, and they’re NATURAL fats, which means that your body can and will assimilate them efficiently. The fats which stick to us and clog up our digestion are animal fats; the fats that pass through us are coconuts, nuts, and avocados.

If you’re looking to be moderate, I’d say stick with no more than 3 oz daily, but a little more won’t hurt you.

Gena

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Janessa April 25, 2009 at 9:18 am

These wraps look so good. I’ve definitely been experimenting more with limiting the tortillas and using the greens. Thanks for being such a great inspiration.

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Gena April 25, 2009 at 11:10 am

Thanks, Janessa! I love your blog :)

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Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) April 25, 2009 at 10:28 am

Gena,
Oh my gosh, I am so excited about all of these recipes. I love using raw nuts for cheezes and dips. I still haven’t tried the collard wraps, but I’m going to take your word for it and give them a whirl. :)

Totally loving your blog and all your raw food creations. Thanks for sharing.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Gena April 25, 2009 at 11:11 am

So happy they look good, Heather! I can’t wait to hear how your experiments go :)

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Kim April 25, 2009 at 11:05 am

Gena, thanks for the tutorial! It helped me finally man up enough to enjoy my first-ever (albeit messily-assembled) collard wrap. Do you happen to know how long organic collard leaves keep fresh in the refrigerator? I bought a pack of 5 yesterday, and want to make sure I use them up in time. Thanks!

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Gena April 25, 2009 at 11:12 am

Congrats, Kim, on your first collard wrap! They get prettier, I promise :)

I find that they last about 5-6 days in my fridge, in a plastic bag with a hole or two to breathe. I always put a damp paper towel in the bag (you should do this for all greens); it helps preserve freshness.

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Kathleen April 25, 2009 at 11:42 am

I love collard wraps. I can’t do the gluten thing so sprouted wheat products are not an option. I was so relieved to find that I could still enjoy the sensation of sandwiches when I craved them. Now I just have to give nut pates and cheeses a whirl!

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lauren April 25, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Yummmmy! I love pate and nut cheeses! Oh and I am in love with lettuce/collards/cabbage wraps!! Crunch crunch crunch!!

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Hannah January 8, 2012 at 7:54 am

Mmm have you tried this “pizza” cheese as a sort of Alfredo? Bet it’s great with spaghetti!

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Sarah W. May 9, 2012 at 8:05 am

Is there a good alternative for miso? I can’t get it in my area. Thanks.

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Lisa @wheezy99 July 9, 2012 at 7:52 am

Gena i was wondering how long will the cashew pizza chz keepn the fridge? Or does it need to be used right away?

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