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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Creamy Vegetable Salad with Fresh Dill

The sense of smell is amazing. It can transport us back to another place and time with one small whiff of a certain scent or smell. Like the first time I smelled bottled white grape juice. All of a sudden I was standing (in my mind, no teleporting involved) in my grandparents’ back yard, under their grape arbor, surrounded by the tart green grapes that grew so heavy on those vines. One sniff and I was back in a childhood memory so vivid, I could picture every detail of their yard and garden, and taste the sweet tartness of those grapes.
This recipe has nothing to do with grapes, but it does involve another scent that brought back a memory, and made me create this recipe. We were shopping this week at Oakridge Acres in Ayr, Ontario and they had these little bags of fresh organic dill, the delicate feathery kind that is so aromatic. As I brought the bag up to my nose, I was suddenly transported (again, no teleporting!) to a vegetarian restaurant that we used to go to in Guelph years ago. The name escapes me, but on this particular visit, I ordered a crisp vegetable salad that was bursting with fresh dill. The tangy bright flavor of the dill was perfectly balanced by the crunch of the veggies and the creamy dressing; it lodged itself deeply in the flavor vaults of my brain. At that time of my life, not being the foodie I am now, I simply enjoyed the salad and moved on. The thought of getting the recipe never crossed my mind.  One whiff of this dill though, and I knew I had to recreate the salad that left such an impression on my taste buds all those years ago.
Although this dressing is very creamy, there is no dairy involved.  I have been using cashews a lot more in the kitchen lately, and they were the perfect base for this salad. They have the ability, when blended, to create a velvety thick dressing without the need for dairy. They also add protein (18 grams in a full cup), healthy fat and decent amounts of magnesium, iron and B-6, among other things!
This salad keeps well in the fridge for a few days; just give a stir if it has been sitting.

 Creamy Vegetable Salad with Dill

1 cup raw cashews
2 small cloves of garlic
½ tsp Herbamare or other sea salt
2/3 cup water
2 -3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cups chopped cauliflower
2 small zucchini, chopped
½ of a red pepper, seeded and chopped
½ cup chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Place dressing ingredients into a blender and whiz until creamy and smooth.  Set aside.

Prepare all veggies and place in a large bowl. Add dressing and dill, toss to coat. Serve immediately or chill. Store leftovers in fridge for up to a few days.

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