This past week I went to VERY fancy Mexican restaurant in Manhattan. The kind of place with $21 guacamole. Not the kind of place I would usually frequent, but my roommate works there so we had an in. And while incredibly overpriced, it was one of the more inspiring meals I’ve had in a while.
I like food that challenges the way I think and forces me to expand my horizons. The smoked cashew salsa was one of the first bites of the night, and when I tasted it I thought two things immediately…
- That’s a flavor/concept I’ve never had. SO great.
- I can do this better. (No offense to the chef, but his liquid smoke flavor was incredibly overpowering and lost any other flavor profile.)
So I got home and started to soak some cashews. I played around with what I thought was in his “salsa” and eventually my recipe emerged. Not to brag, but it’s better.
It’s a really fun sauce for a Mexican dinner at home. Dip your chips in it. Put it on a taco or salad or taco salad. Dip your quesadilla in it. Drench fajitas in it. Drop a dollop into your enchilada soup. It’s a multi-purpose dip like none other.
Smoked Cashew Salsa
This Smoked Cashew Salsa is a unique, creamy dip for your chips. It's like a cross between queso and sour cream with a smokey flavor!
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
Add your raw cashews to a bowl. Either soak overnight in cold water, or pour boiling water over cashews and let soak for 1 hour.
Drain and rinse cashews and add to the base of a blender.
Add creme fraiche, water, rice vinegar, liquid smoke, cumin, maple syrup, and salt to the blender.
Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Pause to scrape down the sides, and add more water if needed for blending.
Pour salsa into a bowl and serve with pico de gallo, guacamole, and regular tomato salsa with chips.
This recipe will thicken a lot when refrigerated. You'll want to reheat to room temperature before serving. (Or maybe you'll like it as a thick dip!)
I learned an important lesson from this fancy meal in the midst of Manhattan. It had nothing to do with the food. It nothing to do with creative inspiration. It had nothing to do with smoked cashew salsa. It had everything to do with the ways in which we treat ourselves.
In the midst of this lavish meal with my two best friends, I felt myself take a big sigh of relief. I was eating food I’d usually never allow myself to eat, not for the dietary restrictions, but for the price. I’m pretty frugal when it comes to spending money on food out. I spend enough on groceries for recipe testing.
I am the first female in my immediate family to financially support herself without a man. And I’m doing it in New York City. This may seem antiquated in thought and like not a big deal, but let me remind you – I’m from the deep south. So I put a lot of pressure on myself to be financially smart. I want to prove myself in this aspect.
Not to mention, my father is a financial advisor and I write articles for Mint. Financial acuity is kinda my thing.
So I was sitting at this dinner, and at the very moment I thought I would feel financially stressed about what I was ordering and eating – I started instead to feel something lighter. Something airy. I started to feel special. I started to remember that I was an important person in my life who deserved to be doted on.
And in the midst of this many course dinner I realized that you must implement occasions for doting. It may not be an expensive fancy dinner with your best friends; it may not cost you any money. Either way, it’s important to do. You don’t need a partner or even a reason.
My advice is obviously not to put up your middle finger to the budget and throw caution to the wind. Rather the advice is to take time – occasionally – to lavish in your personhood. Treat yourself like someone special.
Forget the self-imposed rules. For one night. Or one meal. Or one weekend. Whatever you can afford. Carve that time out for yourself.
Because when you feel special, by no justification but you own – when you hold yourself in high regard – the world stands at attention. Your actions teach people how they should treat you. So it’s important that we value our own importance.
You are significant. Treat yourself accordingly. xo.