Insalata caprese — that perfect arrangement of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil dressed in olive oil and balsamic, gives me a serious case of salad envy. But to further complicate things, I’m not a fan of store-bought vegan mozzarella. But who cares when it’s so easy to whip up a creamy and decadent sweet pea and cashew vegan ricotta, to slather over big juicy slabs of the best tomatoes that summer has to offer!
Don’t be stingy with the fresh basil, and try to use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and the sweetest balsamic vinegar you can find, for this unforgettable way to relish peak summer tomatoes.
Pro tip: stuff the cherry tomatoes with the "ricotta" and chiffonade the basil for an ultra-fresh and gorgeous summertime appetizer!
Herbed Pea Ricotta, Tomatoes & Basil
Serves 3 to 4
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients for the Green Pea Ricotta
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight
- 1/2 cup un-roasted cashews
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, basil, or dill
Ingredients for the Salad
- 2 pounds juicy, perfectly ripe tomatoes, red or a mix of heirloom colors
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Good quality balsamic vinegar
- A few twists of freshly ground black pepper
While the peas thaw, soak the cashews with the water in a glass container in the refrigerator.
Drain the cashews and transfer to a food processor. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pulse into a thick paste, occasionally scraping down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
Add the peas and chopped fresh herbs to the cashews. Pulse and scrape into a fluffy, smooth paste. Taste the pea ricotta and add more lemon and salt if needed. Transfer to a container, tightly cover, and chill for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to blend.
When ready to serve, slice the tomatoes into thick slabs and arrange on a serving plate. Top each slice with a generous dollop of pea ricotta and garnish with a basil leaf. Drizzle each slice with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, and dust with a garnish of freshly ground pepper. Serve as is or with slices of crusty bread. Bellissimo!
Reprinted from Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love by Terry Hope Romero. Courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books