New Orleans Fattoush

Hey guys! I’m on my way back from a trip to New Orleans for the 2016 Orthodox Young Professionals Conference, and I have a lot to share with you. I’m putting together a Vegan in NOLA guide 😀 It’s coming soon and I definitely have restaurant recommendations, but depending on where you stay you might want to cook for yourself once in a while, and then you’ll need to know the best places to shop. I went to a local chain called Rouses, and the pickled okra in the olive bar inspired this New Orleans Fattoush recipe.

In my family, we use the thick, round Syrian bread loaves for fattoush instead of toasted pita bread. The other ingredients are simply lettuce, cucumber, green onions, and kalamata or alfonso olives dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

New Orleans Fattoush Salad Recipe | Orthodox and Vegan
In this recipe, the whole olives are replaced with muffaletta olive salad and pickled okra, and the green onions are replaced with the garlic from the muffaletta.

New Orleans Fattoush
4 C torn lettuce
1 large cucumber, quartered and sliced
3 C torn day-old French bread
1/2 C muffaletta olive salad
1/2 C pickled okra, sliced
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt, to taste

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. I like to let the salad chill for 15-20 minutes so the bread soaks up all the flavors, and the lettuce starts to wilt a little. If you prefer crisp lettuce, serve immediately.

I almost never eat okra, but this was the second dish I made on the trip using it. What’s your favorite way to prepare okra? Comment below and share your favorite recipe!

Raw Cashew Basil Pesto

Hello, Friends! Yesterday I shared some ideas for a vegan tea party-inspired picnic which included basil pesto tea sandwiches, and I promised to share the pesto recipe. Well, here it is. This pesto has a nice earthy, rustic flavor, and is oil free and perfect for strict fasting days. With only a few ingredients to blend together, you’ll be whipping this up in no time!

Raw Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto | Orthodox and Vegan
Basil pesto is great as a sandwich spread or vegetable dip – I particularly like it with cucumber and mint. It also works well as a pasta sauce. Of course you can use gluten free pasta sauce or spiralized veggies to make the meal gluten free or even completely raw.

Raw Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto | Orthodox and Vegan
Raw Cashew Basil Pesto
1 C raw cashews, soaked & drained
1/2 C fresh basil, or to taste
1 large clove garlic, or to taste
1 tsp course salt, or to taste*

Soak the cashews in water for at least one hour, or overnight. Drain and rinse, discarding soak water.
In a blender, add cashews, basil, garlic, and salt. Add 1/2 C fresh water and blend until smooth, adding more water as needed.
I recommend adding the minimal amount of basil, garlic, and salt and tasting after blending before adding more.

*If you are using a fine/table salt, you may want to start with 1/2 tsp

For Pasta Sauce do Not drain pasta completely. The pesto will be thick, so you’ll want to mix it with a little water to loosen it up for tossing. When I use the pesto for pasta, I like to add a little black pepper and top it with nutritional yeast. And on oil days this would, of course, be wonderful with a little drizzle of olive oil – but what doesn’t benefit from olive oil??

Pro tip: If you have a Ninja blender, this recipe can be made in the individual serving cup. In other words, quick & easy clean up!

Comment below and let me know your favorite way to use pesto. I’d love to hear from you!