Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tuna and Martinis

Though it may suck for you to hear me say it, it's Spring in California! The streets are lined with daffodils and the produce section at evil Whole Foods is bursting with huge, luscious strawberries. We also just signed up with a CSA outside of Santa Rosa called Laguna Farms, and we get to pick up our first box today! All this produce, and our temporary aversion to flour and processed foods, has led me back to exploring the virtues of raw cuisine. We do have a bit of a rocky history, raw food and I.

Admittedly, much of what makes our experience together more tumultuous and ambivalent than it might otherwise be is my stubborn frugality. Though some people will claim differently, my research and experiences with raw food have led me to conclude that to do it and do it well, one really needs some equipment. There's an investment involved for those who want to do raw foods, whether you're a swinger or a monogamist, dabbling or planning to transition away from cooked food. At the very least, one needs a good food processor, a dehydrator, a good grinder or mill, and a spiralizer--average knife skills will only get you so far. I have two of these four things, and middling to average knife skills. What I lack in skill, I make up for in ambition. Or so I like to tell myself.

My reticence to acquire a dehydrator forces me to get creative when following recipes that specify dehydration. In Buffalo I had fairly reasonable success putting food on baking sheets and letting them sit in the afternoon sun for several hours. This worked perfectly well for making raw Buckwheat cereal, for example. I had more limited success making dried breads and burgers and the like. My raw experiments came to a halt after eating insufficiently dehydrated and very flax-intensive burgers and buns. Ground flax seeds are a fantastic binder in raw food recipes, which tend to use them very liberally. You mix some ground flax in with some shoyu, ground nuts, pulsed carrots/celery/onions, spread it all out to dry, and voila! When insufficiently dried, though, I was left with the viscosity of the flax, which rather coats the tongue and, in the fullness of time, really skeeves me out. This sliminess ended my raw food experiments for a long time, and it took the California sunshine, abundant produce, and recommitting to fresher food to turn my head again.

A few posts ago, I mentioned that C took me to Seed for our V-Day dinner. I ordered a raw toona sandwich that totally blew my mind. The toona pate, not so mysterious, for all that, came on this amazing, savory, and chewy onion bread. Totally delicious. I liked it so much, I decided to attempt its recreation at home. To my delight, googling "raw onion bread" yielded multiple hits for what I know now to be a rather famous creation in the raw foodie community. I looked at a bunch of different recipes, but ultimately decided to try this one from Raw Freedom Community. I used the author's recommendations and subbed some avocado and water for part of the oil. To be more specific, I used one half of an avocado, mashed, with a few T of olive oil and a bit of water. The liquid is really important as it activates the flax seeds, though "activates" there feels like a euphemism for "renders slimey." Recipe follows:

THE famous Onion bread
Originally posted by Pansy on RFT

2 1/2 lbs sweet onions, peeled
1 cup ground sunflower seeds
1 cup ground golden flax seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
3 oz. Nama Shoyu

Put onions in food processor with 's' blade and process until small pieces, (but not mush). Put in mixing bowl with the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. The flax will absorb liquid. Smooth onto teflex sheets* about 1/4" thick and place in dehydrator for 5 hours, turning over for another 3-4 hours or until dry and crispy. Either break into pieces or cut with a pizza cutter, and store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
Since I don't have a dehydrator, I spread the whole mess on a baking sheet and put it in the oven on the lowest setting for an hour. Then I turned the oven off and left it for a day. It still wasn't dry enough, so I repeated this process off and on for another day. In the end, I couldn't say for certain that the bread was consistently under the 110 degree cut off (or whatever it is) to actually be raw, but I'm not a purist about such things. Also, it was really good. We had it for dinner with the toona recipe that follows, and it was delicious. The bread was even the better the following day, since I flipped it and let it dry for an additional twenty-four hours. If you have a dehydrator, live in the desert, or just have lots of time to fuck with something like this, you should definitely try it. Really really really good. 

I used this toona recipe, as well as the recommended raw vegan mayo in that link. Because I think most people must have much blander palates than I, I tweaked the seasonings. I used a lot more vinegar and dill than the recipe called for and added a bunch of powdered kelp for fishiness. Recipe, with my modifications, marked by asterisks, follows:

Simple Tuna Salad Recipe – Easy Tuna Salad Recipe
Serves 4 (approximately ½ cup servings)Equipment needed: Food processor
¾ cup soaked sunflower seeds (soak ½ cup raw seeds for 8 hours)
½ cup soaked almonds (soak 1/3 cup raw almonds for 8 hours)
2 stalks celery diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice ****I used about 3 T
½ teaspoon dry dill weed ****who are they kidding? I used about 2 T
¼ teaspoon herbemare    ****omitted
1-2 tablespoons olive oil  ****omitted, there is plenty of fat in the mayo!

                                  ****added 3 T apple cider vinegar
                                  ****added 2-3 t kelp powder

Place all ingredients in the food processor with the S blade in place and process to desired consistency. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking.
If you prefer a more traditional tuna salad recipe you can fold into the tuna mixture, by hand, 2 tablespoons of homemade vegan mayonnaise. This really makes it delicious. Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce and top with sliced grape tomatoes. This makes an especially wonderful and healthy dish for a ladies luncheon. If you like, you can put the simple tuna salad recipe in whole wheat wraps and top with sprouts…you’ll think you are eating the real deal and the best part is, you won't have any fishy aftertaste.
I made sandwiches with the onion bread, pickles, toona, and thinly-sliced tomatoes. On the side we had a simple cabbage slaw one night, and a fennel and orange salad the next. Highly recommended. Oh yes, I also recommend that you eat this very fresh and healthy dinner with an equally fresh, but quite unhealthy martini. Tuna and Martini! It's fun to say. 

1 comment:

Cael said...

I think what really put this over the top was the combination of the tangy toona with the bread-and-butter pickle slices. I normally prefer dill, but in this recipe, sweet pickles are a must.