Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pizza With Cashew Cheese, Pear, and Arugula

I've been wanting to try cashew cheese pizza ever since I noticed it on the menu at City o City. When I saw Clotilde's recipe for cashew cheese at Chocolate and Zucchini recently, I decided that the moment had come. Although I'd yet to taste cashew cheese, I picked a few ingredients that seemed cashew-friendly, and set about making my pizza.

For those who who have never had cashew cheese, it's actually not a cheese at all. Instead, it's a more of a nut paté that vegans use as an alternative to dairy. I've seen a few different versions of cashew cheese on the internet; I liked the simplicity of Clotide's recipe, which uses only puréed raw cashews, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. The result is reminiscent of a garlic-tinted, ricotta-textured cheese spread.

This pizza has elements of both sweet (pear) and savory (arugula, red onion, and cashew cheese). I did not use much red onion, as I find that the flavor can be overpowering; feel free to increase the amount of onion to your taste. One batch of cashew cheese yields more than enough for a single pizza; spread the remainder on crackers, use it in a sandwich, or make two pizzas!

Note: the cashew cheese is easy to assemble but requires a little advance work: the raw cashews need to be soaked for a few hours (I soaked them for 8 hours while I was at work) and the "cheese" needs to be prepared 24 hours before it is used.

One batch pizza dough (I use this recipe; store-bought dough is fine)
Olive oil (to brush on baking sheet)
1 tablespoon corn meal (to sprinkle on baking sheet)
Half a batch (about 3/4 cup) of cashew cheese
1 pear, washed and thinly sliced (I used a red pear, but any variety should work)
1 scant tablespoon thinly sliced red onion
3/4 cup arugula, washed, gently dried, and chopped

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Roll out the dough, place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal, and shape the crust.
Spread a thin layer of cashew cheese on the pizza dough.
Top the cashew cheese with pear slices, red onion, and chopped arugula.
Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for about 10 minutes (keep an eye on your pizza as it may require a little less or a little more than 10 minutes - you'll know it's done when the crust begins to turn golden).
Remove from oven and serve.


veggie belly said...

this is very unique! im intrigued by the cashew cheese..

Kitt said...

Oh, interesting! I've never heard of cashew cheese. It sounds like it would taste pretty good, though.

Dine With Donna said...

Trader Joe carries two products, cashew butter and almond butter which are produced and sold like peanut butter. I am wondering if the addition of garlic and lemon juice would make this cheese? This is something I never heard of. I am so glad you are still posting your blog. They are work but we do appreciate your postings.

Beatrice said...

VB and Kitt - I thought the idea of cashew cheese was intriguing, too, and was really pleased with the results. It seems like a very versatile ingredient, so I would encourage you to experiment!

Donna - I haven't yet tried cashew butter, but I do use almond butter (I actually made some cookies with almond butter this weekend - that recipe will go up later this week). Although I haven't yet tasted cashew butter, I'm not sure that you would get the same result if you substituted a nut butter for the cashews in this recipe - the texture seems a bit different. However, I bet you could make an interesting spread, with a thicker consistency than the cashew cheese, using cashew butter, lemon, and garlic.


Chris said...

You've inspired me to try cashew cream (I never knew you were supposed to soak them!). This borders on "dessert pizza" without being too overly sweet; namely, with chocolate caramel sauce drizzled on top of a sugar crust. I can't wait to try this!

Beatrice said...

Hi, Chris. I think that soaking the raw nuts is supposed to make them easier to digest.

I haven't had cashew cream - is it the same as cashew cheese?