Spring Vegetable Crostini With Carrot Top, Mint & Wild Leek Pesto

By Carol Dudar, recipes & food styling

Photos By Stacey Brandford

Prop styling by Jane Hardin/ Objekts Prop Rental

Fabrics provided courtesy of Primavera

Crostini

(serves 4)

  • 8 slices of artisan sourdough bread
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (250 ml) cashew cheese (*see recipe below) or use store bought
  • 4 heirloom carrots, using different colours like red, purple, yellow, sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • 2-3 asparagus stalks, sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • 2-3 rainbow radishes, using pink, purple and red, thinly sliced on the mandoline
  • 8 wild leeks, white bulb only, bottoms trimmed, and cut into halves lengthwise
  • Serve with the wild leek pesto (*see recipe below)
  • fine himalayan pink salt or kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over tartines.

Soak the ribbons and thinly sliced vegetables in a bowl of ice water for 10-15min.

Drain and roll the vegetables up gently in a tea towel.

Grill or toast the slices of bread, and brush the olive oil over the bread.

Grill or quickly saute the wild leeks to soften and gently cook them.

Generously spread the cashew cheese on the toast, and divide the carrots, radishes,

asparagus and wild leeks between the crostinis.

Top each one with the wild leek pesto

Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Serve immediately and serve any extra pesto on the side.

Wild leek, mint and carrot top pesto

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) carrot top fronds only
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) wild leek greens only
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) small mint leaves, or larger ones torn into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) lemon zest
  • ½ tsp fine himalayan pink salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

Toss all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Serve with crostini

Note: Can easily substitute parsley for carrot tops.

Feel free to also substitute basil, oregano, thyme for the other herbs or

whatever you have on hand. Green onion can be substituted for the wild

leeks as they have a very short season.

Cashew cheese is easy to make and a bit more cost effective. Plus it can be customized to your favourite flavour or play around with different seasonings.

Cashew cheese

(makes 1 ½-1 ¾ cups)

  • 2 cups (500 ml) raw cashews, soaked in water overnight*
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) garlic (1 small clove)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup (6 tbsp/90 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) porcini powder (*optional)
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) lemon zest
  • 2 probiotic capsules
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) chives, finely chopped
  • cheesecloth cut into 2 x 12” (30 cm) squares

Drain the cashews, and add all the ingredients except chives to food processor.

Puree until smooth. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic and

porcini powder if using.

Add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture is too dry.

Mix again, taste and reseason again and add more water if necessary.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the probiotic capsules and the chives.

Mix well until the capsules dissolve.

Over a cutting board, lay the two pieces of cheesecloth on top of each other.

Should look like just one square.

Add the cashew mixture to the middle of the cheesecloth, and pull up the sides of the

cloth to create a tight bundle. Secure with an elastic band, clip or string.

Place the bundle in a folded tea cloth lined bowl that will nestle both. The tea cloth

will help absorb moisture from the cheese.

Let sit at room temp in a darker, cooler part of the kitchen for 24-48 hours.

This will help the cheese develop a deeper cheesier, tangier flavour and firmer texture.

Remove from the cheesecloth and transfer to an airtight container. Keep in the fridge

for approximately a week.

* In a pinch, the cashews can be soaked for an hour in boiled hot water

Note: Also try flavouring the cheese with ½ tsp (2 ml) of dry mustard and ½ tsp (2 ml) smoked paprika

Or add more minced garlic

Or try added 1 tsp (5 ml) of everything bagel spice mix