Recipe: Roman Pine-Nut, Cheese and Herb Purée

This recipes is adapted from Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens by Mark Grant.  Somewhere, I know, I have the vegan version of this recipe, in which I substituted tofutti cream cheese for the feta, but I can’t find it now.  For what it’s worth, I believe I used a little more tofutti than I would have used of the feta, and it needed to sit overnight in the fridge, as it was fairly liquid when first made (but firmed up nicely overnight).  More recently, I’ve tried it with 150g firm tofu, and that worked very well and gave a good consistency.  With or without feta, it’s delicious – very fresh and tangy and lovely on fresh bread.

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100g pine nuts
80ml olive oil
80ml red wine vinegar
125g feta (or 150g firm tofu)
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of coriander
half a bunch of mint, maybe more.  The original recipe says 3 mint leaves, but I completely ignore this theory
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of savory (I used marjoram instead)
1 sprig of rue (I used fennel fronds or dill)
salt and pepper

Now what will you do with it?

Put everything in a food processor and blend to a puree.  That’s it!

This spread works on bread as a spread, or on pasta, or as part of a lasagne or pasta bake, or on baked potatoes or sweet potatoes. Basically, it tastes like a lovely sparky green creamy thing.

The recipe is very forgiving.  It works with low fat feta, with the nuts omitted and the feta doubled, with a different choice of nuts, with the mint omitted, and with different herbs. If you are going vegan, try increasing the pine nuts to about 150g and replacing the feta with about 150g firm tofu.

Well, what are you doing still reading this? Go cook something!

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11 responses to “Recipe: Roman Pine-Nut, Cheese and Herb Purée

  1. What do you mean by tofutti? Tofutti is a brand which makes various things, including ice cream, fake cream cheese, fake sour cream and so forth. Did you mean tofu? I could see that working, perhaps with a bit of appropriate seasoning to mimic the effects of the feta.

    • Heh, I had no idea. I’ve only ever seen the fake cream cheese kind, so that’s what I had in mind. I’ll amend accordingly.

      I’m not confident enough with tofu to recommend it as a substitute flavour-wise (I know how it works texturally).

  2. Tofu probably doesn’t vary nearly as much as cheese, but it still varies quite a bit. I have the Uncheese Cookbook, which happens to have a recipe for fake feta. By this point it’s years since I’ve had real cheese, but the recipe wasn’t bad at all. (Certainly like those awful fake hard cheeses which are often compared to earwax.) I remember the tofutti cream cheese being fairly nice, but very pricey and also very unhealthy (hydrogenated fats up the wazoo. Has anyone worked out what a wazoo is, incidentally?). I live near a Chinese supermarket which gets in beautiful fresh tofu from Glasgow. Relatively soft texture, though firm enough for making teriyaki tofu and the like, lovely fresh flavour. I’ve been known to spread pesto or what have you on slices and eat them like that, which I certainly wouldn’t do with a lesser tofu.

    I’d guess that in a recipe like this you might want to adjust the vinegar, and possibly sneak in a tiny bit of miso or whatever the secret ingredient was in that fake feta recipe. Small quantities of miso turn out to be very useful in fake cheeses, I’ve discovered from making the mock parmesan and such.

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  7. Caaaate is this what you made for us today? And do I remember correctly that you used tofu instead of tofetta or cream cheese or something? I want to make this for Sunday!

    Actually email me if you’re free on Sunday and want to come to the picnic being hosted by Cindy from Where’s the Beef? :o)

    • Hi Steph,

      Yes, this is it! I used organic tofu – one with a texture that felt about like feta to me – and a couple of pinches of salt. And, astonishingly, I actually used approximately the quantities and varieties of herbs I said I had.

      And yes, I’d love to do the picnic – will email you shortly (am writing up a post now).

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