What started as a casual weekly tradition at the household of author Brian Patton, resulted in several Happy Hour menus, which are now featured in The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home (New World Library, 2013). Designed around specific themes, each menu has a unique twist but can easily be combined with other finger foods. This simple Cashew Ricotta recipe is from the “Really Little Italy” menu, and has endless uses in pasta recipes and casseroles.
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Cashew Ricotta Recipe
• 2 cups whole raw cashews
• One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup water
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
• 1 garlic clove
• 1 heaping tablespoon nutritional yeast
• 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a medium pot, cover the cashews with water, and boil for 8 minutes to soften them up. (If you’ve got a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec, you don’t need to soften the cashews.) Drain and let cool. In a food processor or blender, process the cashews until they’re finely ground. Add the artichokes, lemon juice, water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, garlic, nutritional yeast, and oil, and puree until mostly smooth but still somewhat grainy. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
2. You’ll end up with about 3 cups of cashew ricotta. If you don’t use it all right away, store the excess in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Brian Patton is author of The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home and The Sexy Vegan Cookbook. He is also executive chef for Vegin’ Out, a vegan food delivery service in Los Angeles. As the quintessential “regular dude” vegan chef, he started posting instructional cooking videos on YouTube as his witty, ukulele playing alter-ego The Sexy Vegan and quickly gained a large following. Visit him online at The Sexy Vegan.