Sunday, August 4, 2013

GF, Summer Ranch Veggie Appetizer Pizza

It's been a while since I have posted anything new. I was pretty busy the last couple months with my trip back home to Michigan to visit family and friends. I came back in the beginning of July but I brought my son with me. We did plenty of cooking but I didn't want to take time away from him to work on my blog. So, he is finally gone, and of course I am pretty sad. But I feel fortunate that I got to spend the last two months with him! So, anyway, now I can get back to my blogging!

My friend Kelly and I made this for a summer cookout and it was a hit even with non-vegans! I have for you today, a healthy summer appetizer loaded with fresh raw veggies, a rich, creamy, cashew ranch spread and fresh herbs all on a gluten free crust! This appetizer is great for parties! This is my vegan version of one of my favorite appetizers. Made the old way, it used croissant rolls from a can for the crust and dairy for the ranch spread. This version is just as delicious and far healthier!

Creamy Cashew Ranch Spread:
1.5 cups raw cashews (soaked 2-4 hours before hand)
1.5 cups water
1/2 lemon juice
1 garlic clove or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Himalayan salt & fresh ground back pepper to taste
2 sprigs of fresh dill
2 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 sprig of fresh basil

Pizza Crust:
14" gluten free pizza crust completely baked (I used a half package of Namaste brand gluten free pizza crust and spread it out very thin on a cookie sheet) You can easily use your favorite gluten free thin crust!

Veggie Toppings:
around a half cup of each diced, more or less of the following-
yellow pepper
grape tomatoes

3-4 sprigs of basil sliced
1-2 sprigs of dill (just leaves pulled off)
a sprinkle of black sesame seeds

Begin by soaking your cup of raw cashews 2-4 hours ahead of time in about 2 cups of water to allow for absorption. During the soak time, prepare your crust, then dice your veggies.

Prepare your gluten free pizza crust according to directions. Be sure to bake it all the way and allow some time for it to cool. While the crust is baking and cooling go ahead and dice up all your veggies. You can really add what ever veggies you like!

Once your veggies are diced you can start preparing the cashew spread. Drain and rinse the cashews, add them to a blender (a single serve smoothie cup size works great if you have one!) Add in the water, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper and blend until smooth and creamy. Add more water in small increments as needed to facilitate blending. Be careful not to add to much, you want this nice and thick not runny. Once the cashews are creamy then add in the herbs and blend again to mince and mix them nicely, but stop before they are completely pulverized.

After the crust cools, spread the cashew cream evenly over crust, sprinkle on your veggie mix, top with some fresh basil, dill & black sesame seeds for garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least an hour, cut into small squares and serve!