Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tahini Noodles with Raw Vegetables

I'm not very good at uncooking. I really like eating raw vegan food at restaurants, but when I try to make it at home it rarely turns out right. You know how when you order a salad at a restaurant and it's really good, so you try and replicate it at home and even though you have all the exact same ingredients, it never tastes right? The lettuce is soggy, the carrot isn't shredded quite right and the tomatoes leak all over everything? That's pretty much the story of my experimentation with raw uncooking.

I haven't been able to put my finger on what exactly I'm doing wrong, but it has been pretty discouraging in the past. I think the main problem is that the recipes I'm trying are too advanced for someone who doesn't know what they are doing. "Attend a raw cooking class" is on my agenda somewhere; I just need an alternative in the meantime.

Because I've never been big on the taste of most raw vegetables, a couple months ago I decided that my best course of action would be to ease into uncooking by incorporating raw components into non-raw meals. At least until I get used to the taste of raw vegetables and have a chance to work on my uncooking skills. So, instead of roasting or stir-frying veggies to go with a grain, I've tried throwing them in completely raw, or at the very least, lightly steamed.

Kind of lame of me to be so timid about this, I know. But it's a step in the right direction, no?

It seems like I might not be the only one slowly wading into the raw uncooking pool, because this recipe from VeganYumYum is exactly what I'm talking about. Cooked whole grain spaghetti noodles and a super spicy tahini-based sauce, and then big bowl of raw vegetables requiring no more prep than washing and chopping.

Paul got me the cookbook for Christmas and there is so much that I'm excited to try. I've been a huge fan of Lauren's blog of years (seriously, if you haven't tried her alfredo sauce you need to stop everything you are doing and pull out your blender right this instant) and am excited to see what the cookbook has to offer. I chose this recipe to try first because of its nod to the whole-foods approach to eating and because it's January and we're all resolving to take better care of ourselves in the new year.

I chose well, because the recipe is really delicious. It's not something I would normally make and being that I'm not usually big on cold noodles or raw vegetables I was surprised at just how much I liked it. The tahini sauce is especially delicious - spicy but creamy, it packs a nutritional punch thanks to its sesame seed base (calcium and B vitamins galore - learn more about sesame seeds and tahini and their role in preventing osteoperosis, certain cancers and other diseases here). I loved this meal so much. Even with cabbage in it! So much, in fact, that I ate it for three meals!

The only problem with it is that it's winter. It's cold out. And eating cold noodles and vegetables isn't as appealing right now as it will be in July. Not to mention that the raw vegetable selection in January in Canada is pretty abysmal. I'll continue making this one, for sure, but I think it will be even better in the summer. It would make a great side dish at a summertime cookout!

If you don't have a copy of the book, you can find the recipe here on the VeganYumYum blog.


Laura said...

That recipe is a regular in my household. If you cut the broccoli very small and let the whole thing sit in the fridge overnight, the dressing soaks in more and the vegetables don't taste as raw.

janet @ the taste space said...

Ill have to check it out - tahini is my new favourite ingredient.

I agree that certain raw restos beat my home grown raw uncooking out of the water... When I ate at Pure Food and Wine in NYC, the food didn't even taste raw, it was incredible. But sometimes I gawk at taking a aw cooking class, thinking how are they going to teach me to uncook?? But there definitely is much to be learned, for sure... once you take your course, please pass on the secrets! :)

Joey said...

I have the same problem with raw food - when I go out and pay someone to make it, it's awesome. Try the same thing at home, and the whole thing ends up a bit watery and joyless. Still, if anything can persuade me to try again, it's noodles and tahini!

Mary said...

Laura - I really loved it for lunch the second day. I love meals like that because I know I can make them in advance and have them taste even better once they've had a chance to sit...not many meals are like that!

Janet - It really so amazing what people who know what they are doing can do with raw vegetables!

Joey - I love the mix of raw and non-raw, it's a perfect happy medium!

Bliss Doubt said...

I adore the idea of eating raw. I imagine what would happen to energy policy if everybody on this continent started using the oven to store food instead of cooking it, not to mention how healthful the food would be, but honestly, I can't take even the first step. Raw foods are snacks, like carrot sticks, radishes, fruit, etc. The closest I can come is a big cold salad in summer, which, during the hottest days, is often the only thing I want, but then I get hungry later on, and end up making toast or a baked potato. Still, I admire you for trying all the ideas, and that noodle dish looks very inviting.

Kim said...

So I tried making this - I have the cookbook & absolutely love it. I was sadly disappointed with this recipe. It sounded good and I was excited to try it as we try to incorporate raw into our diet regularly.
Dejected, I went to reread the recipe after I had made it and realised I forgot the mint. Don't try it without the mint ;p

Mary said...

Bliss - It's really hard to get out of the "raw vegetables are a snack or side" mindset. I am so bad for it. The funny thing is, when a meal is completely raw I can eat maybe half what I could eat if it were not raw, because it is so much more filling! And I end up full for hours (if it's a properly done complete raw meal, rather than just a salad - salads never seem to fill me up). Still, my brain has trouble wrapping around it sometimes - must be a psychological thing carried over from the North American lifestyle.

Kim - You know what is hilarious...I actually wasn't crazy about the mint! I have this weird thing with mint where I only really like it in sweets. I ended up picking a bit of it out, as I liked the taste better without, or with minimal amounts. Too funny! You're not alone though, Paul didn't dislike the dish, but he wasn't as over the moon with it as I was.

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