wRAPsody

Posted by Lisa on May 30, 2011

This week has already brought a lot of surprises and changes and I am still adapting to something I would call a “new chapter of my life”.
Last weekend’s post was about this incredible party I was “cooking” for (mostly raw dishes) and the powerful energy these ladies were giving and living.
I got a big boost to follow my mission and be confident with what I do, who I am and how I create my life.

I have been experimenting with raw food since about a month now and things have changed gradually over the last couple of weeks – overall, only to the better!
I have great people around me who inspire me on so many levels and I can only thank them for making me believe in myself even more.
And sometimes you just need another kick from the outside to take the next step because you don’t have the courage yet or you are waiting for the right moment or a “sign” to eventually Do ya thang (Ice Cube – Raw footage 2008).

My today’s (almost) raw food post is dedicated to wraps.
I usually only have time to prepare proper meals in the evening so during the day I check out New York’s greenmarkets or organic grocery stores for fresh produce .
Absorbing all the different smells and colours around me I always get an inspiration for a particular cuisine as a dinner-topic.
I select a variety of authentic but mostly seasonal vegetables/fruits, chose a wrap basic, spices, herbs and condiments to finish off the dish.
This week I focused on mexican, thai, japanese and italian flavors and adapted them accordingly.

For the mexican theme I chose Ezekiel Sprouted Wraps (not 100% raw), made a spread with young lima beans (in the freezer section), lime juice, tahini, salt and dill (only because I had it at home – otherwise i would have used coriander to stick to the mexican theme – but really you can use any kind of fresh herbs like mint or parsley as well), filled it with avocado, sprouts, cherry tomatoes and served alongside a

Corn-Jicama-Mango Salsa

If in season – buy organic fresh corn on the cob and strip off the kernels with a sharp knife (alternatively buy frozen corn and thaw at room temperature but try to avoid the canned ones).
Put into a bowl and set aside.
Cut 1-2 shallots and a small jalapeno into small dices and add to the corn.
Chop a jicama root, red pepper and ripe mango into bite-size pieces and mince a handful of cilanto.
Season with salt&pepper, squeeze some lime juice over it and toss everything together.

The reason I don’t want to give exact measurements is because it depends on how many people you are feeding, how much you like raw onions and cilantro, how spicy you want it or if you prefer yellow/green peppers.
There is really nothing you can do wrong – just experiment around and season to taste.

The thai wrap was definitely one of my favourites as I already love thai cuisine in general with it’s coconut based curries, green papaya salads and summer rolls (usually served with a peanut sauce but I adapted the original recipe to a raw almond dipping sauce).
The wrap basis was again not raw but there are many options you can consider:

Soy Wrappers

I chose Soy Wrappers I bought at Wholefoods but I just found them online as well…
Other options are spring roll-rice paper you can buy in almost any supermarket in the asian section but it’s again not raw.
The simplest way is to use large lettuce, kale or swiss chard leaves but I do like the almost slimy texture of the rice paper and the visual aspects as well as the convenient execution of the soy wrappers.
The filling is variable and simple as the main focus is on the dipping sauce with it’s sweet-tangy components and a little spicy kick added.
You can again use sprouts, julienned carrots, zucchini, red peppers, cucumber, seasonal radishes, thai basil, ripe papaya – even young coconut meat – as a filling.

The recipe for the Thai Dipping Sauce is adapted from Ani Phyo’s blog

  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Nama Shoy (Soy Sauce or Tamari)
  • 1 Red Thai Chilli Peppers
  • 1/2 cup soaked almonds (or 2 heaping Tbsp raw almond butter)
  • Juice of 1 lime/lemon
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup water or coconut water (adding more if needed)

Put almonds, lemon and/or lime juice, nama shoyu, honey, oil and some water in a blender. Blend it until mixed, check consistency and if it is too thick add more liquid. Add red chilli and a bit of salt. Blend well, taste and check consistency again. You may need to add more lemon/lime or salt.

Mango-Avocado Maki

For the japanese theme I studied quite a few raw cookbooks with sushi/maki recipes to make my own version of

Mango-Avocado Maki with raw cacao nibs

For the Jicama-pine nut rice:

In a food processor combine 1/2 cup pine nuts, 5 cups cubed jicama, a few drops toasted sesame oil, salt and about 2 Tbps rice vinegar.
Chop until it’s almost paste like but still a bit chunky.
Spread on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess moisture.

To assembly the maki rolls:
Lay out a bamboo mat with a nori sheet – shiny side down.
Spread the “rice” onto the nori – leaving about 1/3 on top, sprinkle raw cacao nibs onto it, arrange julienned carrots, cucumber, daikon radish, avocado and mango and roll it up.

Cut into 6 pieces and arrange on a plate with pickled ginger, wasabi and a simple soy-rice vinegar dipping sauce.

The jicama rice has a slightly sweet note that goes really well with the creamy avocado, the fresh vegetables and the unexpected bitter-sweet crunch from the cacao nibs. With the mango slices the dish obtains an almost caribbean flair, which is never a bad idea when you are sweating at home with no ocean in walking distance…
If you need further directions how to roll maki or more recipe inspirations check out my friend Jenne’s video and Quinoa-sprouted maki recipe.

The italian wraps were definitely one of the more challenging compostitions as I was never a really big fan of italian food – until I had my first really satisfying raw food dish at Caravan of Dreams in New York City.
They recently changed owner/chef as far as I know and completely revamped their old endless-pages menu.
Now it’s shorter, neatly arranged and straightforward but still variable with a daily specials menu.

I had the raw spaghetti with meatballs and the portion was – to my surprise – really big and filling (which isn’t always the case in the raw food world).
Zucchini and squash noodles were marinated in a sweet marinara sauce without being too soggy or bland (tomato based sauces can be pretty uncomely and unspectacular if they don’t use seasonal/organic tomatoes or simply neglect sesasoning).
The pasta was accompanied with 5 or 6 raw meatballs (almost like falafels) which were flavorful and not too dry.
Just perfect to add another texture and a very herb-y italian component.

Greenmarket Asparagus

For my dish I julienned carrots, cut asparagus ribbons with a simple vegetable peeler and roughly chopped a handful of dandelion greens.
In a bowl I combined the vegetables, lemon juice, salt and about 3 Tbsp of pesto.
You can make your own seed/nut based pesto (-> Hemp-pesto) if you want it 100% raw/organic/vegan or you use a store-bought one.
Massage the pesto into the noodles and make sure to coat them evenly.
If you happen to find kelp noodles in an organic supermarket – Lifethyme and Organic Avenue were the only stores in NYC I found them – add a handful to the veggie noodles for even more rustic authenticy.
(Also check out this post about another versatile kelp noodle recipe from Choosing Raw.)
Combine them with the rest of the veggie noodles and mix gently with a Tbsp of hemp seeds or walnuts for some extra crunch.

To serve either use dark green leaves (kale, collard greens, mustard greens) or – like I did – the outer large leaves of red cabbage, fill them with the “noodles”, sprinkle some nutritional yeast on it (I used the incredible Herb’n'Spice Rawmesan), roll up and dig in.

You might have noticed that I used a lot of basic fresh ingredients such as carrots, sprouts, cucumber, avocado, jicama, mango, peppers and different nuts/seeds throughout the whole week.
That’s because I don’t want to waste food or buy new produce every day.
It’s just a matter of creativity and execution to make them taste different and exciting every day by adding exotic spices, herbs and seasoning to the dish.

I hope you got a little inspiration for some quick, simple, refreshing and delicious lunch/dinner options on a hot summer’s day!

Maki Set with pickled ginger

 

3 Responses to wRAPsody

  1. Emir d. Camdzic

    There’s a lot of chefs or home cooks that will steer away from raw foods in ease of sticking to what  pleases others tastes. To a chef it is important what others think and what satisfied, but does that keep one from what is right, or fun, or what may lead to discoveries? Maybe it does and maybe it’s much harder to learn from the fundamental roots of cooking and the simplistic approach. What is a chefs responsibility? 
    Many of us are slaves to our appetite which has been conditioned over the years by what we eat, and never got to wash all that down, all of that which has been stuck on our taste buds thus creating our cravings for something more. So what is a chefs responsibility, is it possible to introduce something new? we’ve seen many criticisms silenced in past years and many other emerging as those in that mode have a reputation for keeping it all the same. More and more are awakening to healthier eating and so where do the chefs fit in? perhaps this gives one the opportunity to educate through taste what ones discoveries have created and share it with the world. 

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