Eggplant and Arugula Wraps with Tomato Basil Cashew Cheese

by Gena on May 7, 2012

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I’m alive!

Over three hours, a two small pots of coffee, and a mechanical pencil later, I’m back from my test. How can I begin to thank you all for the responses to yesterday’s post? Many of you said that you found it touching, but in truth, it is your comments that were (and are) touching. I walked into the final so grateful for you all, and for your advice, which was directly helpful. I tried to just treat the final like an intellectual exercise, without thinking about my grade thus far and the prospect of not passing. It was a hard test, and while I don’t feel good about it—I never do in this class—it did not feel quite as catastrophic as the last test. At this point, I’m grateful for those tiny distinctions.

So now, I wait for the final grade. Please keep sending hopes for a curve my way; even if it were to turn out that I did well on today’s test, my grade for the course is in jeopardy, so I really do appreciate the good karma.

Since I’m totally braindead at this point—and I still have a biochem final in a day and a half and an Orgo lab exam the day after—tonight’s post will be short, sweet, and simple. In these days of heavy studying and focus, my food has been utterly pared down to basics. “Basics,” for me, means not only basic foods, like salads, raw soups, simple grains, and legumes, but also “basic” and time honored recipes. These are dishes that I make often and without practically any thought; they’re second nature to me, and they’re relatively foolproof from the culinary perspective.

The following eggplant and cashew cheese wraps—or pinwheels—are one of my favorite party appetizers. I serve them at nearly every gathering, and they’re always hugely popular. Why wouldn’t they be—they feature my raw basil and sundried tomato “pizza cheese” (a CR classic, not to be missed), roasted eggplant (also a winner), fresh basil, and spicy arugula. You can add oven toasted tomatoes, grilled zucchini, or any other vegetable for extra flavor and variety, and if fresh basil isn’t to be had, defrost some pesto and use it instead. When you’re ready to serve, you can either eat this as a wrap, or you can slice it thin, poke it with toothpicks, and serve it to guests.

The cashew cheese might fool some people. And then you can tell them proudly that it’s 100% plant-based and free of cholesterol; you might also mention that cashews are high in copper, which has been linked to healthy cholesterol levels, too. So this “cheese” is free of the typical health risks we associate with soft cheeses, but it is every bit as tasty. And on top of all of this, it’s kind to animals.

Imagine that.

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Eggplant and Arugula Wraps with Tomato Basil Cashew Cheese (vegan, gluten free if you use brown rice or collard leaf wraps, soy free)

Makes 2 large wraps or about 10 pinwheels

1 small eggplant
Coconut oil spray
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar
1 recipe raw Italian "pizza cheese"
1 heaping cup fresh arugula
1/4 cup fresh, thinly sliced basil
2 Ezekiel sprouted grain wraps (or brown rice wraps if you’re GF, or collard green wraps to keep things raw)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay them onto a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Spray with coconut oil, drizzle or brush with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, all to taste. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until very tender.

2. Meanwhile, spread about 1/4- 1/3 cup of the cashew cheese onto each wrap. When the eggplant is done, top the cashew cheese with a few slices.

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Top that off with 1/2 the arugula and basil per wrap, and roll the wrap up.

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If you’re going to serve this dish as an appetizer, slice it into about 5-6 pinwheels. If not, tuck wrap ends in, cut in half, and serve!

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A colorful wrap with quite a few interesting and delicious textures. Plus, healthy fats, healthy whole, sprouted grains, and of course, some fresh greens. Good things do come in small packages.

If you’re interested in rawifying the dish, you can definitely use collard leaves. And eggplant bacon would make it 100% raw! Here’s a vintage CR shot:

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Also very tasty.

Incidentally, the wraps above are featured in Victoria Moran’s new book, Main Street Vegan. I quoted Victoria in yesterday’s post, and many of you liked what she had to say. If you’re in the DC area, check out her reading this Thursday at 8 pm at Busboys and Poets! I’ll be finishing an exam, but I definitely recommend catching Victoria live. She’s lovely, and I’m sorry to miss the talk.

As for everything we spoke of yesterday: all I can say is that I’m so lucky to be a part of this online community. Thank you all for reminding me of my value, and for pointing out (and it’s a crucial fact to keep in mind when one is trying to get into med school) that no matter how the dice rolls, I will have find a way to pursue my passions that is rewarding and helpful to others. There are lots of avenues, and time will tell which one is best.

I hope that I remind you all of how valuable you are—body, mind, and spirit—with every single post I write!

xo

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Ela May 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Gena, we’re lucky and honored to have you in our community! You are such a brave warrior. I’m glad you’re giving your body such beautiful food at this time also.

Sending you lots of love and more gradient-curvaceous wishes, and lots of good sleep!
Ela

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Bex May 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I forgot about pinwheels! Great idea!
I can so relate to the basics! Having just finished my semester, I can finally think about recipes involving ingredients other than frozen veggies, veggie patties, and brown rice. I might even update my own blog with all this free time ;)
Hang in there and good luck on the rest of your tests! The end is near!

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Amy May 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thanks for all that this blog is! It’s transforming my eating habits and has me knowing what to do with the dozen or so collard plants I have growing in the front yard! (Bonus: they’re fuss free to grow and sweeter than anything I could imagine buying in a store – and I’m an incredibly neglectful gardener!) You’ve inspired me to eat a lot more raw (including banana sushi for breakfasts) and this style of eating is incredibly approachable. Dinner tonight was collard wraps with two nut cheese and a slew of veggies and sprouts (inspired by your recent post). I’m so glad to have found Choosing Raw!

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Claire May 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm

CONGRATS on finishing orgo! Sending tons of positive vibes your way – and yes for a curve too!!! :) I’m incredibly impressed that you have time to blog and take such lovely photos throughout the school stress – pretty awesome. Nice way to unwind and spend some time on yourself I suppose – that’s what blogging is for me at least. Good luck with the remaining finals! You’ll do great!

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Hilary May 7, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, and creating an incredibly welcoming forum for worthwhile discussion. You’ve become a role model for me, and it’s apparent I am not alone in my deep appreciation for your contributions. With all the bright, positive energy you have sent forth it is hard to imagine that good waves won’t come back your way. Wishing you the best with all your finals endeavors!

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com May 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Congratulations, Gena! These wraps look so amazing! It was very creative to add arugula, it’s so rich in many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins A, C K. Have to make it sometime this week.

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Fiona Schmidt May 7, 2012 at 11:35 pm

This looks killer! I just did my grocery shopping for the week today but I will def be making this next week! I sent more loving energy your way and tried to telepathically tell your teacher to grade by a curve. :) Best of luck with the rest of your finals!

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Loraine May 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Congratulations! What a fabulous victory to have gotten through and maintained a good perspective on the whole endeavor. We’ll all be thinking of you through the final push. And hoping to hear of a strong curve.

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Ali May 8, 2012 at 12:30 am

Life only EVER leads us in the right direction. You might just be to wise for allopathic thinking.

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Hannah May 8, 2012 at 5:59 am

And whatever avenue it is, the road beneath your feet will turn golden as you walk upon it. There is no question.

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jess May 8, 2012 at 6:56 am

hmmm, is it wrong that i’m tempted to whip these pinwheels up right now before 8am?? that description of your sundried tomato and basil cashew cheese did me in!

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Becky May 8, 2012 at 7:17 am

Those look great. I’ll be starting a post-bacc in the fall and reading your blog has given me lots of inspiration and reassurance that’s it’s the right choice. I’ll definitely be making some of your recipes during busy times yet to come! Thanks!

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Julie May 8, 2012 at 10:02 am

Ugh, I am certainly glad those days are over. I have a Masters of Science with concentration in Biochemistry from the Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology department of my medical school and those exams were rough. My professors were not allowed to grade on a curve, so there were times when one person made an “A”, a few a “B”, and the rest were mostly “D”s. I studied like my life depended on it between my two jobs as a nanny and my job at walmart. I do miss being in school, though. I am lucky that I work in Neuroscience now, so it was all worth it. Good luck with the grades, I’m sure you dominated it!

I am VERY excited for this recipe, I have all the ingredients on hand so I am trying it tonight!

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Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) May 8, 2012 at 11:35 am

Hugs to you, Gena, as you wrap up the semester. I admire you for enduring the rigors of pre-med work, you have great determination and focus. Keep up the good work!

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ash May 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Wow! These wraps look amazing! I look forward to trying this recipe. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I am constantly amazed by your productivity. I can barely bring myself to experiment with recipes, shoot photos, and write a blog post once a week amidst all the other things I am juggling! How you do it so often and so thoroughly while being a student is impressive. What’s your secret? ;)

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Ismail May 9, 2012 at 6:32 am

This is my first visit to your site and I am really impreesd. I really like your href “Recipe “Eggplant and Arugula Wraps with Tomato Basil Cashew Cheese

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles May 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I just bought Main Street Vegan as a birthday present for my newly vegan sister! It’s not for a month, though, so I get to read it first :)

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Fiona August 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I really enjoyed this, thank you! My husband didn’t care for it but I think that’s because he doesn’t like basil very much. Its really filling as a wrap because of all the nuts and I only used about two thirds of the nut cheese for two wraps. I also cooked my eggplant in the pressure cooker to make the recipe quicker.

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