Great Ape Cook-Off Challenge #2:
In week 2 of the Great Ape Cook-Off, the chefs were tasked with making a dish for the chimps using cauliflower and nutritional yeast. Obviously you’re all familiar with cauliflower but it’s definitely this year’s trendy vegetable and is rich in vitamins and minerals. One serving of cauliflower contains 77% of your daily value of vitamin C! Nutritional yeast is a bit more of a specialty ingredient and is sometimes referred to as simply “nooch” or “hippie dust”. Nutritional yeast is a common ingredient in vegan cuisine and is used to give foods a cheese-like flavor. It is a unique and rich source of many nutrients, including B vitamins, amino acids, at least 14 minerals and 17 vitamins!
We know it’s healthy, but what will the judges think?
What did you make?
Jen: I decided to make individual cauliflower crust pizzas-because who doesn’t love vegan pizza?! The donated cauliflower was already broken down into a rice like consistency which is usually my first step. I then steamed the “cauliflower rice”, blended it, and then added it my other dough ingredients. I made a few flax “eggs”, which is just a 1:3 ratio of flax to water needed to replace a normal egg for binding purposes (plus the added benefit of omega 3’s, fiber, and protein!) After that gelled up for a bit, I added corn meal to thicken the dough. Next I added nutritional yeast (AKA “nooch”-the most magical vegan ingredient ever invented!) which gives anything you add to it a cheesy flavor; plus just one tablespoon offers up 3 grams of protein and 40% of your daily serving of vitamin B12! I sprinkled in some oregano, basil, and salt-free Italian seasoning, then baked it in a super hot oven until crispy.
Meanwhile, I blended up some sweet juicy cherry tomatoes with fresh basil and oregano for the sauce. I smeared the sauce on top of the crust and topped it off with some fresh cut bell peppers, baby spinach, some more nutritional yeast, and a cherry tomato garnish!
Kaleigh: I made nachos! For Chimpmas this year I made the chimps a vegan mac & cheeze and the sauce was so good that I wanted to make it again. The sauce is made from cooked cauliflower, carrots, nutritional yeast and spices blended together. It comes out super creamy and delicious. The hardest part of the dish was making chips. I didn’t want to use store bought tortilla chips so I made sweet potato chips! They were pretty labor intensive but the chimps enjoyed them so it was worth it. I definitely “taste tested” a few while I was cooking. On top of the chips I added guacamole, my cheeze sauce, mild red salsa, diced onions, and cilantro. The chips didn’t come out as crispy as I had hoped but the chimps did not seem to mind!
What did the chimps think of it?
Jen: I received mixed reviews on this endeavor. Jackson examined his for a few seconds before putting it down and chowing down on a yam. Topo devoured his in a few bites (but I’m convinced he’ll eat anything). The flavors might have been a bit much for Herbie, who insisted on slurping down some juice with his between bites. I don’t think Patty even touched hers, as I found the whole thing intact when cleaning in her enclosure the next morning! This might have been a cauli-failure crust pizza instead…whoops. If I try this recipe again I wouldn’t blend the cauliflower after steaming it but instead just mix it in with the rest of the dough ingredients. It made the dough too mushy and not crisp enough. Maybe next time I would add ground primate chow or whole wheat flour.
Kaleigh: Some of the chimps were a little apprehensive about trying new things but once the more adventurous ones tried it they all loved it. CJ had been taste testing for me while watching me cook so she was definitely the most excited about finally getting to enjoy the whole thing. I let CJ pick off all of the chips that had stuck to the baking sheet and let her lick the spoon when I was done making the cauliflower cheeze. Herbie made excited chirping noises while he ate. Jackson and Emma put theirs down at first but were quick to try the dish when CJ tried to go in for seconds. I’d definitely make this for myself but I would probably just buy the chips.
The winner of the Round 2 of the Great Ape Cook-Off is…..