Monday, 21 November 2011

vegan cashew wasabi leaf pesto

Hello, my little wasabi leaf*. Only some weeks ago, I was oblivious to your presence in this vast universe that we both inhabit. A few play-dates later, I think it's safe to say that we are now quite pleasantly acquainted, and I'm beginning to understand what makes you tick.

a wasabi salad leaf.

You have the flavour profile of wasabi root - with that unique hit-and-run spicy tingle - but you are much gentler on the senses. I enjoy chewing you slowly... your intriguing taste makes you a fabulous addition to salads. In my daydreams, I imagine you glistening under perfect slices of sashimi, begging to be savoured, and I gladly oblige.

But today, you have another role to play. In this pesto-inspired recipe, you dance up a frenzy with the lovely cashew. You're zingy, she's creamy. You spin, you whirl... you become one.

vegan cashew wasabi leaf pesto.

vegan cashew wasabi leaf pesto

50g wasabi salad leaves
50g unsalted roasted cashews (use less if you would like a more prominent wasabi flavour)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste)

Whiz wasabi leaves, roasted cashews, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic with a food processor or blender until it forms a slightly chunky paste. (You could also get there by grinding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle.) Retrieve, taste, and season to your liking with salt and pepper. That's it!

Other ideas: I might add a little chilli and mint next time! I'm also keen to try one that's closer to the traditional pesto - less nutty, and with cheese. Mmmmmm, cheese. Yes.

vegan pesto made with cashews and wasabi leaves.

Munch with carrot sticks. Spread on crackers or bread, bruschetta-style. Mix into mashed potatoes. Serve with eggs, seafood or steak. Stir through cooked pasta, hot or cold. Oh, the possibilities!

vegan pesto pasta.


*The leaf pictured and the leaves used in this recipe are actually not from the wasabi plant - they were created by intercrossing rare and unusual salad varieties, but they do taste so much like wasabi. For those of you in Melbourne, you may find these wasabi salad leaves here.
For those of you anywhere in Australia, you might try real wasabi leaves here.


36 comments:

  1. I am going to have to hunt me down some wasabi leaves. Dying to make that pesto.
    You have a fantastic writing style. Love the intro to this lovely piece.
    Nice work.

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  2. Another brilliant post! This is an intriguing ingredient! You are right about the sashimi, I can just imagine using the leaf like a betel leaf for a little wrap of sashimi and pickled ginger.

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  3. I've never seen fresh wasabi leaf ever, so you can imagine how envious I am of your pesto.

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  4. The Food Sage - thank you! I've been putting more thought into my writing lately, and your compliment means a lot to me.

    Thanks Foodycat, it really is intriguing. I'm hoping to try more things with it!

    Shaheen, here's hoping you'll come across it someday. :D

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  5. What a great recipe! My best friend's gone vegan overnight so I'll definitely be sending this her way. Seems like it packs a punch as well ;) Oh and where'd you get the wasabi leaves? I sampled some at the Taste of Melbourne but can't remember where to get them!

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  6. Wasabi leaves! They're new to me too. I can imagine them adding a really interesting bite to this pesto.

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  7. Hi Vee, I initially found them at Coles in Fitzroy, of all places (shhh). ;) I've since spotted them at Prahran Market and South Melbourne Market. I've also added to my post a link which has a list of stockists!

    They really do have an interesting flavour, Cindy. Like wasabi, but milder.

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  8. I think fusilli is the best pasta for your beautiful recipe since all that goodness gets caught in it!

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  9. First time seeing washabi leaves! And the recipe is the perfect way to use them. I think.

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  10. Oh. My. Heavens. I've never been into traditional pesto (I think it's the pine nuts?) but this looks incredible! So incredible! I want to pour it other my veggies tonight. Darn never having seen wasabi leaf anywhere!

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  11. Chopinand - it does appear so, doesn't it. :D

    Thanks Anh!

    I love your enthusiasm Hannah! Perhaps you can lobby your local grocer to stock wasabi leaves. :D

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  12. i wonder how wasabi and shiso leaves would taste like if pounded together...

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  13. Oh yum! I love pesto that gives a hit, and this looks like it would! And can I just say I love that wooden fork! Where did you get it?

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  14. That sounds like it would be a lovely combination, Michelle!

    msihua, I got the wooden fork from Fuji Mart (near Aldi and Prahran Market), at the section where everything is $2.50! :D

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  15. What a zany recipe! You've inspired me to try and get creative this week, rather than just grilling up a steak. Maybe.

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  16. Wasabi leaf, now this sounds seriously yummy.

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  17. Thanks Lizzy!

    Thanks Lau! And you've just reminded me how I like the zaniness of the word zany. :D

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  18. Wow! You cook with the most amazing ingredients! I love wasabi, I think I am most definitely going to be book marking this one!

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  19. This looks FANTASTIC, leafy!! Another great discovery! You really have a knack for spotting the most unusual but interesting ingredients in Melbourne. And also never fail to think of the perfect recipe to go with it! Love your inquisitive spirit ;) Bravaaa!

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  20. i like your food pictures and want to invite you to try out tastingspot.com. it's for anyone that just wants another place to submit photos and share it will other foodies. It’s still in beta version, but would love for you to start adding some photos and help get it going.

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  21. Looks great! Never thought to use wasabi leaves before :D

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  22. Thanks Anna! It really is a fun ingredient. :D

    Thanks Winston, it's always nice to see something unusual and/or interesting on my shopping trips!

    Thanks Shellie! :)

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  23. I've never had wasabi leaf either! You've definitely piqued my interest. This looks delicious.

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  24. And you said my mushroom cookies were original...touche! What an awesome recipe. I have no idea where to find wasabi leaves in Montreal, but I will. Look forward to reading you this blog looks amazing :). If you get a chance go to my facebook page dishchronicles.com and give a like. Oana

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  25. Now that's a pesto I can get behind :D

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  26. Oh wow. Wasabi. Now, if only I could get fresh wasabi leaves here... :(

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  27. I've never seen wasabi leaf. I can feel the zing the leaves will bring to the pesto. It would be lovely on top of steak or grilled chicken, I think.
    Nice job! You are a very creative cook!

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  28. "hit-and-run spicy tingle" is a great way to sum up the experience!

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  29. I've never even seen a wasabi leaf before :) But this sounds really interesting, especially as I love wasabi! Your pesto sounds super tasty too!

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  30. Love that you used wasabi leaves. the natural peppery taste must be so nice.

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  31. Thanks for your lovely comments, Scarlett, beyondkimchee, Ayden, Von and Penny. :D

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  32. Zing!! This is awesome! Such a foreign ingredient to me, I'm only just learning how to use wasabi. This is brilliant!
    Heidi xo

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  33. No way! This is absolutely amazing! Wasabi leaf pesto? Huh!
    It looks super tasty and well, it's a nice plus when it's vegan, but more generally healthy. Exactly what I need.
    You are such a creative cook! :)
    Take care! xxx

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  34. Thanks Heidi, I do like the zing!

    Thanks Marie-Anne, I get takeaway fairly often so when I cook for myself I try to make healthier meals!

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