Raw recipes: The ultimate fast-food


Let’s face it: Cooking takes time. So when we’re in a hurry, even though we may want to eat healthier, we often opt for fast-food because we just don’t have time to cook. But what if we had an arsenal of no-cook recipes that required minimal preparation and assembly? Would we accommodate that little bit of prep time into our busy schedule, instead of heading to the drive-through? The answer may lie in raw food recipes that offer more than smoothies and salads.

Certainly there has to be something other than that ubiquitous salad; more creative ways to incorporate raw veggies into our meals? Here are a few ideas. They offer fiber, higher nutrient content and, not incidentally, pretty good flavors. Many people are embracing an all-raw diet, which they claim helps with joint pain, energy levels, indigestion and other ills. But even if you only take advantage of raw foods for the occasional quick meal, you’ll be satisfying your need for speed while eating healthy.

Greek pita

This takes about 15 minutes to put together and goes great with a creamy soup. Recipe from “Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home” by the Moosewood Collective; makes 4 to 6 servings.

5 artichoke hearts, cut into quarters (14-ounce can or jar)

1/4 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (or 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper)

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cup grated or crumbled feta cheese (about 5 ounces)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced

Pita bread

Romaine or leaf lettuce

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except pita and lettuce. Cut pita breads in half and lightly toast them in a toaster oven. Fill each half with a lettuce leaf and about 1/2 cup filling. Serve immediately, while pita is still warm and soft.

Creamy avocado-citrus soup

Smooth and tangy, this is a quick meal or great accompaniment to a sandwich. Recipe from “Raw Foods for Busy People” by Jordan Maerin; makes 4 servings.

2 large avocados, peeled, pit removed

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup orange juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

Combine all ingredients and whisk or blend until smooth. Serve at room temperature. If you prefer to warm the soup, use a double boiler so the temperature will rise slowly. Stir often and heat only until warm to the touch.

Veggie and herb sandwich spread

This is pretty good and filling; full of fresh vegetables and herbs. Use a good multigrain bread, fresh tomatoes and lettuce for a memorable sandwich, or spread it on crackers. Recipe from “Feeding the Healthy Vegetarian Family” by Ken Haedrich; makes enough for 4 servings.

3/4 pound cottage cheese

1 small onion, minced

1 medium carrot, grated

1 celery rib, finely chopped

2 radishes, finely chopped

1/2 small green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons prepared pesto (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil plus 2 tablespoons fresh-grated Parmesan cheese)

1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped (optional but nice)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Red pepper flakes

Put cottage cheese in a medium strainer; cover with a piece of foil. Suspend strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid. Put a heavy can on top and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients and put in a mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate. When cottage cheese has drained for an hour, combine it with remaining ingredients and mix well. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover and refrigerate an hour or two, so flavors can mingle.

Pan bagnat

French for “bathed bread,” this sandwich is pressed under a weight so that the inside of the bread become saturated with the pungent flavors. Another good recipe from the Moosewood Collective; makes 4 servings.

1 baguette or other long, thin loaf of French bread, sliced in half lengthwise, almost all the way through

1 garlic clove, pressed

1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin is best here)

1 tomato, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 red or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup pitted and sliced Kalamata or other ripe black olives

Salt and black pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:

4 ounces sliced provolone or other cheese

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Green or red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped or cut into strips

Anchovies to taste

1 cup artichoke hearts, sliced into quarters

Herbs, such as basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano

Open the sliced loaf; spread garlic on one of the cut sides. Drizzle olive oil on both sides. Layer tomato, cucumber, onion, olives and any optional ingredients on one half of the bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Close loaf; wrap tightly with plastic wrap or foil. Weigh down the full length of the bread with a heavy book, or a baking tray topped with bricks, or whatever you can find, for 1 to 3 hours. Slice and serve.