Benjie Chankin's Chilled Vegetable Torte

©Benjie Chankin

I was at work during a holiday, recently, serving mini fruit tarts, when I found myself wondering (partly as an attempt to STOP wondering about eating one myself) about making these things vegetable instead of fruit AND non-dairy (they usually have a cheesecake type of base) AND gluten-free. Then a little devil on my shoulder shouted, "Get this hippy outta here, eat a fruit tart!" Thankfully, the angel on my other shoulder won out… This is sooooo yummy! Maybe next winter I'll make the fully-baked version but for the warming weather, I wanted one more ode to the salad genre. One of the beauties of this recipe is you can use whatever is growing in your garden…just slice any soft veggies, or steam and then slice any hard veggies or roots and last, top with any fresh herbs you have growing… voilà!

I use the Follow Your Heart Rising Sun label individual pizza crust. When looking for gluten-free pizza crusts, I found many, but this was the only one I found that wasn't made with eggs. They are in the freezer case, so they need to be defrosted first, and then I just warmed and browned them in a standard toaster (it took a couple of passes).

1 tub Follow Your Heart Vegan Creme Cheese blended with
1/4 c. Sun-dried Tomatoes, softened if dried or tough, chopped very fine (If you need to soften the tomatoes, braise in shallow water for 10 min.)
Spread evenly on one or two crusts

3 Persian or 1 Hot House Cucumber, thinly sliced
1 sm. Zucchini, thinly sliced
3 sm. Tomatoes, thinly sliced
Golden Beets, boiled, peeled (easier AFTER boiling), thinly sliced
Follow Your Heart Vegan Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Assemble toppings on crust according to however you are moved.
Other topping ideas: yellow squash, avocado, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, carrots.

Sprinkle pesto and finely chopped red onion on top and finish with fresh basil sprigs.

Note: the crust will come out of the toaster hot, and spreading the 'tomato-cream cheese' will then start to 'melt' the spread. This is okay, or you can wait a few minutes for the crust to cool a bit. The crust however is better tasting and has a better 'bite' the warmer it is.