Indy Power: Making the most of in-season rhubarb
This week Indy Power shows us a beautiful and nutritious spring dessert.
Rhubarb with vanilla cashew cream
Rhubarb is so wonderfully tart, making it the perfect pairing for something sweet and creamy. Don't be put off by the cashew cream, trust me when I tell you you'll be licking the food processor clean. Just don't forget to soak your cashews the night before!
Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and paleo-friendly
For the rhubarb:
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
For the cashew cream:
150g cashews, soaked overnight (or minimum 5 hours)
125ml unsweetened almond milk
1 vanilla pod
3 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp of pistachios
To soak your cashews, put them in a bowl and cover them with cold water. Make sure the water is at least an inch above the cashews. Cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge over night.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Wash your rhubarb and chop it into chunks. Add it to a roasting tray and sprinkle on the coconut sugar and cinnamon. Cover the tray with tinfoil and roast at 200˚C for about 25 minutes. When it's ready, it should fall apart when touched with a fork.
While the rhubarb is cooking, make the cashew cream. Drain the cashews and rinse them, then add them to your food processor with the almond milk. Blitz on high until smooth and creamy. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod and pour in the sweetener. Blend again until smooth.
Take out the rhubarb and set it aside. Turn the oven down to 180˚C and pop the pistachios in on a roasting tray for a few minutes until golden and toasted.
Divide half of the rhubarb between your bowls or jars. Then cover with a layer of cashew cream. Repeat with another layer of each and then top with the toasted pistachios. For less fuss or to feed more mouths, just use one layer of each per bowl.
Why soak nuts overnight?
Soaking nuts breaks down the phytic acid they contain, which inhibits the proper absorption of nutrients. Soaked nuts (aka activated nuts) are easier to digest, allowing much more of their mineral goodness to be absorbed. After soaking, rinse them and blend them for desserts or dry them and eat them normally. I admit it is a bit of a chore and I certainly don't do it every time I eat nuts, but it really is very simple, it just takes time. To dry them, drain and rinse them, then pat them dry with a tea towel and roast at 70˚C (or as low as your oven will go) for about 10 minutes until crunchy. Do a big batch to keep you going for ages, almost long enough to forget how long they take to activate!
Using sweet cashew cream for desserts like this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can use it in sauces, lasagne and even as a faux cream cheese with a few simple tweaks. Just adjust the amount of liquid to change the consistency and for savoury things, leave out the sweetener. Add garlic, nutritional yeast, herbs or spices to change the flavour. For lasagne and creamy bakes, use the same ratio of nuts to nut milk as in this recipe and add garlic or dried herbs. For cream cheese, use a little less nut milk and add nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavour. Cashews are one of the best food hacks for vegans or anyone cutting down on dairy.
I've been obsessed with nobó ice-cream since its launch and it just keeps getting better (shout out to their Mint Humbug flavour!). It's cleverly made from some of my favourite things: coconut milk and avocado are the main ingredients and it's dairy-free too. Most importantly, it's insanely delicious! It's full of such nutritious ingredients and tastes so good that I regularly add it to my smoothies as a little treat and, of course, it's amazing as dessert. I can't wait to see what gorgeous flavours they'll roll out next. Check out nobo.ie for stockists.