There’s a funny way of looking at food when you first find out you can’t eat a certain one.
I started dividing food into two categories: can and can’t. I can eat roasted potatoes, Alaskan salmon, fresh quince, raspberry jam, teff porridge, and duck confit. I can’t eat bread or pasta or pizza or pie made with wheat, rye, or barley, triticale, or spelt. But I can eat bread or pasta or pizza or pie I make myself, with a multitude of flours I didn’t even knew existed before I started living this way.
Four and a half years after giving up gluten, the can’t list feels much shorter than the can list does. A little deprivation sometimes makes you see how full your life already is.
These days of grey, even a bit of green tarragon on a cutting board can revive the eyes.
These chanterelles gleamed in the dim light of the kitchen window today, where I stood and watched Danny cook our lunch. We figured that this dish we conceived over the course of car trips and coffee cups and consultations with The Flavor Bible would come out well, based on our instincts. Still, we couldn’t put up a recipe without making it. Lunch was an empty slot, waiting to be filled.
I couldn’t stop taking photographs of the chanterelles, bright as honey on a summer’s day, filled with frills and curlicues, fascinating to the lens. Everything is beautiful, if you really look at it. The shallots, fine-diced in a pile, sat translucent on the wooden cutting board. The dried sour cherries, puckered up as though waiting for a kiss, had been shoved to the back of the counter, so Little Bean couldn’t grab one more. The smell of cashews toasting in a pan kept me from moving to the computer, even though I had work to do. I picked up the toddler and showed it all to her. We watched her father cooking, head lowered, eyes focused on the work.
Those moments were the best part of the day.
Everything on that counter, all that bright and beautiful food, is something a vegan can eat.
It’s too easy to put our traditions and expectations first, before our guests. What do you mean she can’t eat gluten? How am I supposed to feed her? I want, instead, to focus on the can.
What can I feed you? I’d love to share this meal with you. Gluten-free? That’s never a problem here. Vegan? You bet. Look at these chanterelles gleaming. Have you eaten them with sour cherries? Oh, you’re in for a treat.
Welcome to the table.
I’m happy to be part of the week-long gluten-free progressive dinner party, shared by some of us gluten-free bloggers. Here’s what we cooked up this week:
Karen, Jean and Seamaiden served APPETIZERS on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at Cook4Seasons –Goat Cheese with Cumin and Mint, Gluten Free Organics Lemon Chili Olives and Spiced Honey Almond Nibbles and Book of Yum– Allergen Free Casein Free Pumpkin Kabocha Soup
Wild Rice Salad with Chanterelles, Sour Cherries, and Cashew Sour Cream
This is so full of flavor that you won’t ever think of it as “vegan” or “special food” or “healthy.” It’s just good food, warm and filling on a cold November day. The wild rice clings to the chanterelles, which bounce back against the fork, and the sour cherries add a sweet bite. If you’re the kind of family that likes a wild rice stuffing for Thanksgiving? This could be yours.
The cashew sour cream became an instant favorite here, after the first bite the other day. Someone mentioned cashew sour cream on Twitter, which reminded me that I had been meaning to make it since Heidi used it in a recipe, four years ago. Years ago, I might have thought that cashew sour cream sounded “weird” and stayed away from it.
Lately, however, I have been thinking a lot about how all food is food to me. What does that mean? I don’t like categories. If it’s food, and I can eat it, I want to try it. Most of the time, I like it.
If you make this, you’re going to want to try it again too.
Wild Rice Salad
2 cups wild rice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chanterelles
4 tablespoons fine-diced shallots
1/2 dried sour cherries
4 teaspoons fine-diced tarragon
1 cup toasted cashews
Cooking the wild rice. Put the wild rice into a large saucepan and cover with 6 cups hot water. Add the salt and stir. Set the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat until the water stays at a medium-hard boil. Cook the rice, watching to make sure the water does not evaporate, until the rice is tender to the teeth, about 20 minutes. (You can also reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, about 45 to 50 minutes.) Drain and set aside.
Sauteing the salad. Set a large sauté pan over high heat. Let the pan grow really hot. Add the oil. When it swirls in the pan, toss in the chanterelles and cook, stirring, for a few moments. Add the shallots and cook them both, stirring. Toss in the tarragon and cook until it releases its fragrance, about 2 minutes. Add the cherries and toasted cashews. Cook for a moment, stirring. Add the wild rice and cook until it is heated.
Serve the salad warm.
We didn’t need vinaigrette with this. However, if you find you want a bit more bite, we suggest a lemon vinaigrette with this salad.
Cashew Sour Cream
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/2 t salt
2 ounces fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
about 3/4 cup water
Cover the cashews with water and let them soak overnight.
In the morning, drain the water from the softened cashews. Put them into a food processor, along with the salt and lemon juice. (We liked this lemony. If you want to mask the taste more, use less lemon juice.) Twirl it all up, pouring in the fresh water until the “cream” has reached your desired consistency. Refrigerate it for a few hours to let it thicken even more.
Also, this cashew sour cream is great on tacos, enchiladas, and spread on warm bread.