Light and refreshing, this is a raw vegan antipasto, ideal to share for two for lunch in summer. There is much contention in the health food industry on the raw vegan diet. David Wolfe and Russell James are among the influential chefs and nutritionists who promote the raw vegan diet for a number of health reasons. Mostly, they actually begin their teachings with their own story; their shift to raw vegan foods and the felt benefits on their health and wellbeing.
I myself feel a little mixed about it and would rather not say one or the other. I certainly feel great when I eat fresh, raw ingredients in a salad or fruit bowl. There are also a number of things about a slow-cooked broth, tagine, risotto or stew that I just love:
- They are comforting
- The depth of flavour is far greater than that of many raw dishes
- They are winter warming (obviously, salad just doesn’t taste as good in winter)
- They are satisfying evening meals
- They are best shared
I am happy to eat mostly raw foods during hot summers and for breakfast and lunch, but I often enjoy a hot evening meal to share with my partner and/or friends. Whilst it’s true that the live enzymes in foods ‘die’ when heat is applied to most foods, stews and broths especially retain much of the goodness in their plant-based ingredients as the liquid in the dishes is also eaten, that is, where the vitamins leech out into. Steaming too is an option for cooking plant-based foods in order to retain much of the original vitamins and minerals. Boiling is a no-no in that sense, but there is the old trick of drinking the leafy greens water after the vegetables are cooked and strained. My mother used to set it aside for me as I loved the taste of boiled vegetable water wth a little salt and pepper, even as a young child.
There is some consensus in this raw vegan debate: ‘the fresher, the better’ and ‘the less heat applied, the better’, but you need not feel guilty about eating cooked foods. After all, many foods eaten raw are actually indigestible or even toxic because of their calcium oxalate contents when raw, like taro root, for example. There are ways to retain the goodness in the ingredients if you are experimental with the cooking methods of certain foods. I would also urge those of you in some less developed countries to actually avoid raw foods because of the risks carried in fresh raw foods being washed in unsanitary water. In China, for example, it’s rather rare to find raw foods on restaurant menus, as in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) eating raw foods is discouraged. This is, mostly I believe, due to the health risks that poor water sanitation carried (and still carries in parts of China), though it is often explained as being because raw foods more difficult to digest than cooked foods.
I must say, nonetheless, this recipe is a raw vegan’s dream, and I do enjoy it, as I said, on hot summer afternoons as an antipasto dish to share, so this one serves 2.
Pink radishes, 3
Lotus root, ¼
Pumpkin seeds, raw or toasted, to garnish
Any Salad Dressing of your choice
Sea salt, to taste
Ground white or pink pepper, to taste
1. Wash and peel all of the vegetables except for the radishes (only wash these).
2. Season the baking tray with sea salt and ground pepper.
3. Using a mandolin on the thinnest setting possible, slice all ingredients and lay each slice separately on a baking tray. I recommend placing the beetroot on a separate plate as the rich red colour will leach all over the other sliced vegetables and make a mess.
4. Drizzle the Salad Dressing of your choice generously over the vegetables and set aside for at least 2.5 hours in the refrigerator to marinade, but the longer the better.
5. When you are ready to serve, gently place the sliced vegetables on the plate in any manner you wish.
6. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds (these can be toasted or raw, as you wish), and season with salt and pepper a little more before serving.
Add dots of that rich sticky balsamic vinegar glaze if you have it.
Garnish with pickled red cabbage or more toasted or raw pumpkin seeds. You could also use a combination of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, or black and white sesame seeds, or even flaked almonds instead.