Sometimes I feel so lucky to be living in a place like Tel Aviv; with warm weather, tons of vegan-friendly restaurants, endless yoga studios, great people and a short walk from the beach.
But actually, after spending the last couple of month away from home, it's clear to me that one of the best things about it is the availability and variety of fresh produce. Well, you know, it's only when something is taken away from you, you can really appreciate it!
Since we came back I'm obsessed with everything green - cucumbers, spinach, parsley, cilantro, kale, and green onion are at the top of my list at the moment. Flavors, textures, and colors just taste, seem and smell better here.
Another thing about Tel Aviv is that it's a very small city, which naturally affects the foody community. When something becomes a trend, everyone knows about it within a few hours!
The latest health food trend in Israel, brought by the blogger Dvir Bar creator of Wheat Out, is a gluten-free take off on a very famous Israeli dish - Burrekas (or Borek). Burrekas is a baked filled pastry made of a thin flaky dough. It comes in many different fillings but the most popular option is cheese.
Dvir is a gluten-free food blogger who had the genius idea of using rice paper sheets to create a GF Burrekas! His recipe was an immediate success and once I came across it I knew I had to make a plant-based version.
The funny thing was, that by the time I wanted to make it every food store around the city was out of rice paper sheets. It became a local sensation, everyone wanted to try and make the GF Burrekas. Luckily, Guy was able to find some at the market and we had the chance to test and adjust this delicious vegan version!
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Soak the cashews in room temperature water for 4 hours or in hot water (not boiling) for 20 minutes.
Rinse and transfer the soaked cashews to a high-speed blender, add the water and blend together until smooth.
Chop the vegetables as small as possible.
Place a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the vegetables with the spices, starting with the shallot and green onions.
Once the greens have reduced and softened, add the cashew blend and cream for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Heat the oven to 355°F (~180°C) on turbo mode, and line a round pan with parchment paper. Brush the paper with olive oil.
Fill a large plate or a shallow baking dish with 1 inch (~2.5 cm) of water (room temperature). Soak one rice paper in the water for about 20 seconds to soften slightly. Lay the softened rice paper on your working surface.
Repeat with a second rice paper and place it on your work surface, slightly overlapping the first rice paper, creating one big wrapper. Using a sharp knife, cut the round end which is closer to you to create a straight line If you happen to get a hold of large square rice papers you can simply use one to assemble each Burrekas.
Place 1 tbsp of spinach filling and spread along the straight end (if using the square rice paper, spread along the long end) creating a fine strip of filling. Fold the bottom of the pastry up over the filling, roll it up tight into a long sausage-shaped roll and wrap it around itself to form the shape of a snail. Tuck the end of the roll under. Repeat with the remaining rice papers until you're out of filling.
Place the filled "snails" on the oiled parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Garnish with Nigella or sesame seeds and bake for 40 minutes.
Serve warm with plant-based yogurt or fresh grated tomatoes and a simple vegetable salad, or just eat straight from the pan.