Vegan Grandma

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Vegan Very Benevolent Caesar Salad and Charkhlis Mkhali (Beet Puree)

I tried two new recipes for today. The first one is from The New Now and Zen Epicure, Gourmet Vegan Recipes for the Enlightened Palate, by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner, published 2001 by Book Publishing Company, Summertown, Tennesee, page173. This book has some great recipes, such as Gateau de Crepes and French Onion Pie. I thought this Vegan Ceasar Salad was very good.

Vegan Very Benevolent Caesar Salad
makes 4 servings

1 small head romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into large pieces


2 tablespoons almond meal (blanched ground almonds)*
3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)

*I couldn’t find any almond meal, and blanched almonds were expensive, so I ground up un-blanched almonds in my coffee grinder. It seemed to work out O.K. except for brown flakes in the dressing, which didn't seem to affect the taste. If I were making it for guests, I would use blanched almonds to make it look nicer.

Prepare the romaine lettuce and put it in a large bowl.

For the dressing, combine the almond meal, garlic, mustard, and nutritional yeast to make a paste, then whisk in the soy sauce, lemon juice, water, and optional olive oil. Put the croutons on top, pour on the dressing, and toss.

Serve immediately.

The next recipe is a traditional recipe from the Republic of Georgia (which was part of the former Soviet Union). I have a lovely daughter-in-law who is from The Republic of Georgia, and I really like the Charkhlis Mkhali she makes. My daughter-in-law uses a special Georgian spice mixture she gets from The Republic of Georgia. The following version, from The Georgian Feast, by Darra Goldstein, published by Harper Collins Publishers, page 160, calls for spices that are easy to find in the U.S.A.

Charkhlis Mkhali (Beet Puree)
Serves 6

Mkhali is a vegetable puree with herbs and ground walnuts. It can be made from various vegetables, although spinach and beets are most often used.

Georgians like to mix their charkhlis by hand, but, in our modern society we can use a blender. (My daughter-in-law’s mother makes hers by hand, but my daughter-in-law uses a blender, as did I)

1 pound of beets
½ cup of shelled walnuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ teaspoon of salt
½ cup of chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of dried summer savory
1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander seed
1 or 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar (to taste)

Bake the unpeeled beets at 375 degrees F. for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until tender. If you are short of time, the beets may be boiled, but their flavor will not be as good.

While the beets are cooking, grind together walnuts, garlic and salt.(I used my coffee grinder to grind the nuts, then I transferred everything to a food processor). Add the cilantro, parsley and continue grinding to make a fine paste . Transfer to a bowl.

When the beets are soft, peel them and finely grate them in the food processor. In a medium size bowl mix together the grated beets and the ground walnut mixture, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Keep tasting, as the amount of vinegar needed will depend on the sweetness of the beets. The mkhali should be slightly tart.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but bring to room temperature before serving. Serve mounded on a plate and cross-hatched on top with a knife.


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