Cashews are my favorite nuts, although they are actually the seeds found within the fruit or the cashew apple, from the cashew tree. The cashew tree is a tropical evergreen tree that originated in Northeastern Brazil. The Portuguese colonists started exporting cashews and cashew products in the 1500’s and they became very popular in Goa in the mid 1500’s. From there, they grew and spread all over South East Asia and then moved on to North Africa. Today, the largest cashew producing areas are Vietnam, India, Nigeria and The Ivory Coast. The trees can grow up to about 14 m, but the ones that are the most productive trees are the “dwarf” trees, at about 6 m in height. They have a higher yield and mature faster than than larger trees. The name cashew was derived from the Portuguese word caju, which was taken from the Tupian word acaju, meaning a nut that produces itself. Cooking with cashews, in all its forms, is very popular in both Indian and Pakistani recipes. The whole cashew has a wide variety of uses, ranging from cooking to making lubricants from the shells, to using the shells for paints and waterproofing. The shells were also used in arms production during WWII. The fruit part can be used for making chutneys and alcohols, or can be cooked and eaten as is. We actually have some cashew wine from Belize. It is a very tasty, sweet wine that is best as a dessert wine. The seed, or nut part, is also very versatile and is used in many different ways, including making nut butters, nut cheeses and milks. Cashew milk is a good alternative to dairy milk, especially for people who cannot tolerate dairy milk. Though cashews contain a lot of fats, they are also very healthy. One serving of cashews provides 36% of the daily requirements for protein, 13% of fiber, and 11% of carbs. They are also rich in thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin K, iron, potassium, zinc and selenium. So next time your are looking for something to munch on, go nutty and go for the cashews.
For dinner last night, I decided to go Asian and made cashew shrimp with loads of vegetables. I incorporated my Living Tree Community Organic Cashew Butter into the sauce, then added some chopped cashews on top as a garnish. More Treats from Living Tree Community Foods Dinner was delicious!
1 lb large prawns or shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 carrot, sliced thin
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 cup green beans, cut into pieces about 1-1 1/2 ”
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
1 TBSP garlic
1 TBSP ginger
1 can coconut milk
1/2-3/4 cup Living Tree Community Organic Cashew Butter
4-5 large basil leaves, chiffonade
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
salt & pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup chopped cashews
oil for cooking
milk, if needed to thin the sauce
Saute the vegetables, garlic and ginger in hot oil until they are tender, then set aside.
In the same oil, cook the shrimp until they are pink on both sides, about 3-5 minutes.
Once the shrimp is cooked, remove it from the skillet and set aside. Add the vegetables back into the hot skillet, then add the coconut milk and combine thoroughly.
Mix in the Living Tree Community Organic Cashew Butter, and again, mix thoroughly. The sauce might be a little thick, so add regular milk as needed if you want a thinner sauce.
Again, incorporate everything together well, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then at the last minute, add the fresh basil and green onions and mix well. You can either add the shrimp back in at this point, or serve this over the rice and add the shrimp as you plate it. As you can see, my shrimp are mixed in with the sauce. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and chopped cashews. I served it with a cool crisp chardonnay, but a riesling would be very nice as well, especially depending on how spicy the dish is. A sweet riesling will help cut down on the spicy flavors from the sauce.
*** You can easily make this dish vegetarian or vegan by substituting the shrimp for either vegan/vegetarian friendly proteins or by just eating it with the vegetables. Either way, it comes out very good.