Like many American families, we are a multicultural family. He’s from France, born and raised. I am a first generation American of Indian immigrants (often referred to an ABCD – an American born confused Desi with Desi being a term referring to people of the Indian subcontinent). We solidified our relationship in California, which in some respects seems like its own country (much like NYC, where I am from). This has introduced a blend of cultures that has found its way into my food. Just this past week, my husband was sworn in as an American citizen – well a dual American French citizen (yes he is dual AF) and I wanted to celebrate with a feast. I chose to center this feast around the Cali Mex cuisine with a twist. Lettuce taco bout plant based cuisine: lettuce wrap tacos with plant based taco meat. The meat was re-purposed into a collard wrap burrito. And there was was also a cashew based queso because chips and dip please.
I came home to find chanterelle mushrooms in the fridge. Chanterelles! They are golden looking, golden tasting, and golden priced. Typically priced at about $12-$14 per pound, they are an expensive mushroom. Their taste is delicate, but goes well with eggs and with cream. Since we had them, they had to be used – so I placed them into a cream sauce made from cashews, along with swiss chard and asparagus and served it over or mixed with spaghetti squash. What a heavenly meal.
We have had an influx of visitors from back home in NYC (I love it!). And of course if people come over, I have to cook because that is just how I operate. Lately I have been swamped with work and toddler changes/tantrums, prepping my food every day for Whole30 and resisting that which I should not eat. So when guests come to town, if I don’t have anything prepped or time on my hands I need to come up with quick dishes. My fridge is overflowing with squash purees, so I decided to make her a pasta with a cayenne spiced pumpkin goat cheese sauce. My husband and friend loved it and I was drooling, frustrated I could not eat it. So of course I began to create a compliant recipe in my head and made it the very next day – gluten-free, dairy-free, white wine-free full of whole foods. Instead of spaghetti noodles, I used spaghetti squash. Instead of pumpkin, I used butternut squash just to change it up. Instead of goat cheese, I used cashew cream and nutrional yeast. Instead of white wine, I used lemon juice. And added kale and pistachios. Heavenly. I had three servings.
Earlier this summer, I had dinner with one of my good friends back home in New York City who loves good food and knows good Italian. He took me to Via Carota where I indulged in the most perfectly cooked tortelli with nettle and ricotta in a simple butter sauce topped with parmigiano-reggiano. It was divine – my mouth still waters thinking about it. I will never be able to make pasta as perfectly fresh and aldente as that – and nor should I. Perfecting such an art would take an unnecessary amount of time and would require me to eat pasta daily (why would I not take advantage of such a talent if I had it). Instead, I can be a connoisseur of pasta and eat it sparingly because finding such exquisitely made pasta is not easy and often expensive unless you are lucky enough to know of a fine Italian home cook. Does it mean that I must be left to salivate over my dreams of such fine cooking until I can experience it again? For me, the answer lies in being able to create something similar that is healthy, nourishing, fulfilling that can be eaten often without guilt or regret. So I made a pasta-less ravioli using a zucchini wrapper and I made this two ways : with and without dairy, because sometimes this girl loves a bite of cheese. I stuffed it with a mix of leafy greens and either real ricotta cheese or one made from cashews, and topped with a sage infused ghee based butter sauce and topped with walnuts and either parm or dairy-free cashew nut parm.