I’ve lived in Los Angeles for over eleven years now and I’ve come to the realization and the firm conviction that this is my spiritual home.  Ever since I was a kid I idealized California.  It seemed like the perfect Utopia with amazing weather, progressive politics that aligned with my values and beliefs (care for each other and care for the Earth, I know, radical isn’t it?), and enough money, most of the time, to support the people who were lucky enough to call it home.  

Now that I am one of those lucky people who gets to call it home I can say that living in Los Angeles and California is everything that I had expected and more.  

One of the many things I love about LA is that it is so incredibly diverse.  White people who were born in the US are a minority here.  And I’m not talking some slight mathematical minority either, like a legit minority of only 25% white Americans.  In a city of almost 4 million people that means that there are WAY more “others” here.  This diversity creates a very rich and vibrant community fabric that influences everything from music to politics to food to economics.  All of these things affect and play into one another but because I love food and this is a food blog, let’s talk about the FOOOODD!!  

Some of my readers who are from more homogeneous or rural areas comment that my recipes are fancy or exotic.  But in a city where the majority of people are from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, this stuff is standard fare.  It is actually very easy to find a lot of the ingredients for these dishes because we have so many specialty stores.  There are at least 4 or 5 specialty stores within a mile or two of my house.  So if I need some tamarind, or lemongrass or a special kind of lentil or spice, it’s readily and easily accessible.  

This is also a city where people are very focused on being healthy.  Or what they think is healthy.  This is the land of gluten-free, vegan, paleo, raw, juice cleanses and even though I don’t subscribe to a specific diet, I appreciate it.  I appreciate that all of this comes from a desire that people around here have to be the best versions of themselves, down to what food they choose to eat.  I always notice how much this is a part of the local culture when I travel to other places and I can’t get a cold pressed organic juice.  Day 2 of being in the South or Midwest I will actually turn to someone and say “Do you know where I can get a cold pressed juice?”  I actually say this shit out loud and hearing it come out of my own mouth annoys, amuses and delights me at the same time.  I am so LA.  

And of course, I can’t talk about LA cuisine without talking about the avocado.  It’s on just about every menu and you can add it just about anything.  It even gets center stage treatment on lots of menus as avocado toast or guacamole or as the base to creamy sauces.  It helps that avocados are grown here too.   

This recipe is one of my favorites because to me, it’s the embodiment of food culture in this city that I am so grateful to call home.  It’s raw, organic, gluten-free, vegan, it has an Asian flare but is also distinctly California and it’s incredibly delicious.  And of course it has avocado on it.  It’s fresh California goodness wrapped in savory, briny nori which pays homage to three of the biggest gifts we have here; sun, land and sea.  

Delightful Recipe

Serves 4
Adapted from Color Me Vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons tamari soy sauce (tamari is gluten free)
  • 4 nori sheets
  • 1 cup of sprouts (alfalfa, bean, etc.)
  • 1 cup of grated carrots
  • 1 cup of finely chopped cabbage (green, red, napa, etc.)
  • 1 cucumber peeled and julienned or cut into small matchsticks
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of roughly chopped basil
  • In a blender combine the cashews, orange juice and tamari.  Blend until you have a creamy sauce and there are no chunks.  You can thin it out with more juice or with water if it’s too thick.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • To make the wraps, lay a piece of nori flat on each of your plates.  Place one fourth of each of the veggies (sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumber) in the middle of each wrap and then pour a quarter of the cashew sauce on top of each one.  Add avocado slices on top and then sprinkle an equal amount of basil and cilantro on each wrap.
  • Roll the wrap from the edge to the middle and then serve immediately because nori gets soggy pretty fast.
  • Feel free to change up the veggies and herbs to make it your own!  I’ve also used grated beets, brussel sprouts, kale, shredded green beans, grated broccoli and yellow bell peppers.  Play around with it and see what works for you.
  • Nori comes in packs of 10 so you can expand this recipe to feed more people if you don’t have any other use for Nori or if you want an alternative to taco night.  Double the cashew recipe and then set up a wrap bar with lots of different veggies and let people assemble their own creations! Have fun with it 🙂

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