Appetizers are often my favorite, though time consuming, aspect of a meal. And truth be known, I would almost prefer a table of interesting appetizers than a full meal. Must have something to do with being Syrian (wink). Meze, in my Middle Eastern Mediterranean heritage, was always a huge platter, or table filled with mini versions of a large assortment of traditional dishes. Pick and choose as you like, or eat lots of one thing and less of something else. A yummy way to eat!
Syrian food, like its similar neighboring traditional foods, are rich with legumes, nuts, and seeds that are transformed into a variety of dishes and pastes. Yogurt, kefir, and sheep’s milk cream were intermingled in savory dishes as well as sweet, and no one suffered lactose intolerance simply because these staple items in every Middle Eastern home had not been highly processed or striped from their natural state.
I suppose it is why I created the phrase you will find on all my media pages: Where the richest flavors in the world were born, and every meal is a celebration!
So, today I am in a “Meze” mood! I have created a whimsically, delicious appetizer you are sure to love. These Anchovy Cashew Cheese Tarts are fast and easy to assemble. The only time constriction is in waiting an hour or two for the raw cashew nuts to soak. But even this can be done a day in advance or over-night.
- Mini Tart shells – found in the freezer section
- Olive oil – for brushing on tart shells
- Anchovies – One per tart, as many as you plan to prepare
- Micro greens for garnish – or any leaf of your choice
- Cashew Cheese – ingredients and process below
- Raw cashews – 2 cups soaked a few hours and drained
- White balsamic vinegar – 1 tablespoon
- White pepper – ¼ teaspoon
- Salt – 1 teaspoon
- Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
- Garlic – 2 cloves crushed
- Nutritional yeast – 1 tablespoon (flake style is best, remembering that this is not yeast for rising or baking)
- Fenugreek powder – 1 teaspoon
- Water – ¼ cup
Place all the cashew cheese ingredients in a blender and puree into a paste. Chill.
Place tart shells on a baking sheet (preferably with parchment paper under). Brush a little olive oil on tart shells. Bake in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes, just to turn golden. But watch them because they can go from golden to burnt quickly. Let the tarts shells cool 5 minutes.
Place a dollop of cheese in each tart shell. Stand the anchovy into the cheese, tail up, (trimming some of the head end if necessary to adjust their height). Garnish with a micro-green leaf. Beautifully, deliciously, whimsical!