Even though we attempt a new baking project now and again, sometimes it's easier to fall back on making something foolproof. Invited to a recent potluck-style brunch, I was looking for something sweet that wasn't your typical breakfast baked good. J reminded me of a quick and easy pie she has made several times in the past- and while she usually intends it as a dessert, it can easily function as a part of breakfast or brunch.
The "pie" consists of fruit and nuts- nothing else! This makes it 1) easy, 2) vegan, and 3) raw (no baking involved). While you can use a variety of different combinations of ingredients depending on what you have on hand, there are a few basic rules to follow.
The pie consists of a crust, sliced fruit, and a smoothie-esque topping to bind everything together. For all three parts, you'll need:
- 1.5 cups of nuts, preferably raw, no salt added (more than one nut variety recommended)
- 1 cup + 1/2 cup dried dates, preferably of the large, soft, and moist variety
- 2 cups of chopped fresh fruit
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
|Raw cashews, walnuts, kiwi, banana, strawberries, and dates.|
Pretty vague ingredients list, I know, but you'll understand soon! The first layer of the pie is the crust, which is so much easier than a butter based crust. I soaked 1 cup of raw cashews in water for about an hour, then drained them and combined them with 1/2 cup of raw walnuts and 1 cup of dates (pits removed, roughly chopped). I also added a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, but these additions are optional. Throw everything into a blender or food processor and pulse/blend until combined.
Eventually, a ball should form, letting you know the mixing is complete. If it's taking awhile, or seems dry, you can add small pieces of date to up the sticky factor. The final mix should NOT be crumbly or dry, but easily moldable.
Add the entire mix to a shallow pie dish (you could also make it in a tart pan) and work the dough with your hands until you've covered the entire dish (including the sides) with a uniform layer. No greasing of the pan is necessary- the fat from the nuts does the job itself.
Slice fresh fruit (about two cups, depending on the size of your dish) and arrange over the crust. I chose strawberries (although horribly out of season), quartering them and placing them in concentric circles. Over these, I arranged peeled, sliced kiwi. While you could use a number of different fruits, I'd recommend staying away from any that are extremely watery (melons, citrus fruit, etc) or those that brown easily (bananas, apples).
This fruit forms the base of the pie, so the next step is to form the top layer, which serves to bind everything together. The final product should be a thick blended mix, including mostly fresh fruit with a few dates thrown in for increased sweet-and-stickiness. I used one banana, 1/2 of a ripe mango and about five dates, and blended them in the food processor until well combined. Frozen fruit would also work just fine, and might be easier during the off season.
Once blended, carefully pour and smooth the binder over the pie, making sure that everything is evenly coated.
While the coolness factor (and the need for fresh fruit) makes this more of a warm weather treat, it was nice to have a little piece of summer as the days get colder. The pie is super easy and packs a nutritional punch (although fairly high in natural sugars), and its vegan and gluten-free status makes it friendly for any audience while remaining easily approachable.