Artichoke Aioli: A Vegan Workhorse Spread

Sometimes you come across a spread and wonder how you every lived without it. This is what most of us go through the first time hummus passed our lips, or tried pesto on something other than pasta. The flavor, the versatility: mind blown- life flashes before your eyes as you think, ” OMG. YES YES YES.”

I’m having that moment with an Artichoke Aioli from Chad Sarno via Crazy Sexy Kitchen. The recipe is one of three components to a dish I haven’t tried yet, but caught my eye while flipping through, looking for just the right spread for my Polenta and Roasted Cherry Tomato canapés.

Vegan Artichoke Spread
Vegan Artichoke Spread

Here cashews are soaked, then whizzed up with seasonings for the base. Next chopped marinated artichokes are folded in along with tarragon, chives, chopped shallot and lemon zest. Quite an elegant vegan spread.

So far I have used this spread 4 ways.

  1. On canapés (as noted in my polenta and rested cherry tomato one above: Simply slice a tube of precooked PLAIN polenta into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Schemer a spoonful of the Artichoke spread and top with roasted cherry tomatoes).
  2. On a roasted portobello mushroom sandwich: Whole wheat bread schemed with spread and whole grain mustard. Topped with sliced grilled portobello mushroom, pickled onions and salad greens.
  3. Elevate a veggie burger: Whole Wheat Bun, veggie burger, spread, arugula.
  4. A dip for pita crisps, rice crackers, and when no one is looking, fingers.

I still have a bit in my fridge, so, come over and try it if you’d like.

Cashew Artichoke Spread
Adapted from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr and Chef Chad Sarno

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked 4 hours to overnight (you can also use raw macadamia nuts)
  • 1/4 cold water
  • 1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped (I love this brand!)
  • 1  small shallot, finely chopped (no more than 2TBSP)
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs: tarragon, basil, flat leaf parsley, chives (if you only have one or two herbs, cut the amount down to 2 TBSP)
  • Zest of 1 lemon

1. In your vitamix (seriously, just buy one!!), pace the drained cashews and cold water, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and salt until smooth. Use a small rubber spatial to transfer every last bit of deliciousness into a bowl. Fold in the artichoke hearts, chopped herbs and lemon zest. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed: salt/vinegar.

Note: you can also use a food processor for this, but you’ll want to use a small one, or the small bowl insert in a kitchen aid food processor to be sure the cashews blend up smooth and creamy.

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