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Vegan for the Holidays

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The Nutty Gourmet

Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

Imagine a tall, creamy, pine nut-enriched torte that makes a presentation so appealing guests are often reluctant to dip into it. The pesto clings to its traditional Italian flavor, sans the Parmesan cheese, and offers exceptional eating pleasure. This special-occasion dish is perfect to make ahead. Serve it with several spreading knives, whole-wheat sourdough bread, mini rice cakes, rice crackers, or toasted pita wedges.

Tofu Pesto Torte is one of the delicious appetizers from Zel's cookbook The Nut Gourmet.

Tofu Pesto Torte


Yield: 8 to 10 servings

    1 cup (240 ml) fresh spinach, stemmed, washed, and lightly packed
    1 cup (240 ml) fresh basil leaves, washed and lightly packed
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup (120 ml) pine nuts
    1 garlic clove
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    2/3 cup (160 ml) sun-dried tomatoes

    Tofu Layer
    12 ounces (340g) extra-firm tofu, rinsed and drained
    6 ounces (169g) firm tofu, rinsed and drained
    2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon rice vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
    1/4 teaspoon dried basil

    Green leaf lettuce
    1 small ripe Roma tomato, sliced
    Basil sprigs

  1. TO MAKE THE PESTO, combine the spinach, fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in the food processor and process until completely smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and wash the processor work bowl.
  2. Put the sun-dried tomatoes in a medium bowl, and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to rehydrate. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sun-dried tomatoes to the food processor and pulse the tomatoes into a chunky puree. Add a small amount of soak water if needed. Set aside and wash the work bowl.
  3. TO MAKE THE TOFU LAYER, combine the extra firm and firm tofu, lemon juice, salt, vinegar, oregano, and dried basil in the food processor and process until completely smooth.
  4. TO ASSEMBLE THE TORTE, line a deep 4-cup (1 liter) bowl or mold with enough plastic wrap to drape over the sides. Spread one-third of the tofu mixture over the bottom of the bowl, then layer half the pesto, followed by half the sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. Next, layer half the remaining tofu mixture, the remainder of the pesto, and the remainder of the sun-dried tomatoes. Top the torte with the remainder of the tofu mixture. Fold the plastic wrap over the top to cover completely, and refrigerate the torte for 4 to 12 hours.
  6. Just before serving, fold back the plastic wrap and unmold the torte onto an attractive serving dish. Surround the torte with leaf lettuce, and garnish with the tomato slices and a few sprigs of basil.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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