Chard Leaf Wraps with Cashew "Cheese"

A little known fact about cho girl here: I'm a maniac for The Lord of the Rings. Ever since reading the trilogy, alongside The Hobbit and The Similarion, of course, I have been fascinated with elven culture. I wanted SO FREAKING BADLY to live in Rivendell, or at least pretend to, I put clothes pins on my ears in hopes they would reshape into points.

Not. Even. Kidding. (Looking 30 down the barrel, I'm apparently becoming less censored in my ripe age, thus this journal being a confessional booth of the absurd.) 

So, what does The Lord of the Rings have to do with this week's recipe? Well, the little wraps of vegetable deliciousness below look like the leaves the elves wrapped Sam and Frodo's lembas in. SO COOL!  

"Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith."

The Fellowship of the Ring, "Farewell to Lorien"

Okay, okay, I'll turn down the dork factor now. But just like lembas bread helped Sam and Frodo walk hundreds of miles to destroy the ring, these chard leaf wraps below are full of nutrient-rich ingredients to help you hike the Mount Doom in your life. There's veggies, ya. But the center piece of this recipe is the cashew cheese. 

Cashew cheese may sound like a poor excuse for cheddar or swiss, but it’s actually tangy and creamy in ways remarkably similar to molded milk. And if dairy makes your stomach pissed off like it does for me, the cheese-like tastes and textures of this nut concoction help make dairy-freedom not suck so much. 

As always with my recipes, the wraps are pretty simple. I offer some ideas below for what to fill the chard leaves with in addition to the cashew cheese, but, needless to say, let your creativity/refrigerator's contents guide you. 

Chard Leaf Wraps with Cashew Cheese

What You'll Need

For the cheese:

High speed blender, like a Vitamix

2 C Cashews (soaked in water for a least a few hours, if not overnight)

Juice of two lemons

1/2 C Water

1/4 C Nutritional Yeast

1 T Dried Herbs

1 t Garlic Powder

1/2 t Salt

1/2 t Pepper

For the Wraps: 

Chard leaves

Other fillings you may want, like peppers, cabbage, sprouts, shreds of carrots, daikon radishes, etc..

What You'll Do

1. Make sure to soak the cashews for at least three hours. You can do it overnight for a creamier cheese. Put soaked cashews in the blender and let 'er rip. Stop the blender once in a while to push the cashews down towards the blades. 

3. Squeeze the lemons' juices into a bowl. This way you can remove any seeds.

4. Add all of the cashew ingredients to the blender and mix. Again, you'll have to push the ingredients down to the blades once in a while to make sure everything gets blended evenly.

Now you have the cashew cheese. 

5. Cut your fillings julienne style (long and skinny). Spread the cheese on the leaf and layer up along the top of the chard stem. Just like burrito rolling, you don't want to go too thick or else you'll have a bulging, leaf-tearing mess on your hands. But if you skimp on the innards, the leaf-to-filling ratio will be off. Chard leaves taste pretty good...but we don't want them to be the dominating flavor.

6. For wrapping, fold leaf ends towards one another. (Chard stem will snap; it's okay. You got this.) Tuck the leaf-wrapped ingredients in like you would a burrito or sushi roll. 

"A single bite" of lembas may sustain an elf for hours, but I eat more like a hobbit and prefer multiple wraps for a meal. I then like to save a few wraps for later as a quick and filling snack. 

Enjoy! May these wraps keep you on your feet for a long journey or day of labor... 

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