Cooking · Food · Vegan

Magic for Your Mouth: Chef Matthew Prepares Vegan Caprese

Chef Matthew Purnell
Chef Matthew Purnell

When Chef Matthew Purnell informed the class of women surrounding him he was going to make a vegan caprese salad, I thought, “This’ll be interesting” with the heart of a skeptic.

I mean, how does one make a vegan caprese when one of the three featured ingredients is mozzarella cheese?

I love caprese salad and frequently order it when my husband and I are out to dinner.  In fact, I actually sometimes crave caprese.  It’s light enough that it doesn’t interfere with my ability to chow down on my main entree.

As a former vegan (I couldn’t keep going without my favorite foods: salmon and shrimp, but still don’t touch beef or pork), I know it’s possible to make flavorful, tasty vegan dishes, but still I was not convinced Chef Matthew could create mozzarella from (drum roll, please), ground up macadamia nuts!

Chef Matthew showed us from start to finish the way he makes food taste like magic in the mouth.  One key ingredient to the process was a Blendtec Blender which is about $400 on  I think before I invest in something like that for my kitchen, I’m going to test out the capabilities of my Nutribullet which cost closer to $80 at Bed, Bath & Beyond with my 20% off coupon.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

One thing to note about Chef Matthew’s delectable vegan caprese is that he tweaked the recipe from the norm in that he replaced the plain basil leaves with pesto.  Pure genius!  As a talent-less rule follower, I make recipes the way the authors say in a cookbook, but because he’s a professional, he can do his own thing and there’s a high probability that it will taste amazing.

My foray into the unknown has a much higher chance of ending up in the other highly used appliance in my home:  the disposal.

I now can say without reservation that I prefer Chef Matthew’s version of caprese.  I am glad I am not currently (nor will I ever be again) pregnant because I know I would be up at all hours making this recipe.  With my first pregnancy, I ate so many tomatoes that my daughter literally cannot stand to eat plain tomatoes.  I am certain there is a connection.  So it’s natural to just expect (no pun intended) that I would have taken the whole tomato thing one step further and added the scoops of heaven into the mix had I known such a thing existed.

Better than the Original: Vegan Caprese
Better than the Original: Vegan Caprese

But I digress…the point is that this recipe is so delicious, and would be for vegans and non-vegans alike, I am going to make the caprese for an upcoming cul-de-sac party, and not even mention the vegan aspect of it– just get the satisfaction from people stunned to silence with such a tasty treat.

Chef Matthew was engaging, entertaining, full of information and tips, inspiring, and I plan on having an in-home cooking demonstration with a couple of my friends this fall.  Of course there will be wine served, but wine is vegan, isn’t it? 😉

Chef Matthew can be found at the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach teaching others how to prepare delicious vegan and raw food.  He is also available for consultations, private in-home parties, catering, and meal delivery throughout San Diego.  You can reach him at 760-405-2204 or email him at for additional information.

I did not receive any financial compensation for my post.  The opinions I expressed are my own.  I did, however, receive an insanely delicious vegan caprese!


8 thoughts on “Magic for Your Mouth: Chef Matthew Prepares Vegan Caprese

    1. You definitely should!! Chef Matthew was a miracle worker in the kitchen. Hopefully you can come back up for my in-home, in person taste testing paired with some local wines and craft beer.

      I’m drooling just typing this out — I’ve become my dog. Perhaps I need to get out a wee bit more??

  1. He used ground macadamia nuts to make “mozzarella cheese”? You’re blowing my mind here. How did he get it to be creamy? I wish I could be at your cul-de-sac party and see the look one everyone’s face when you announce it’s vegan. Priceless I’m sure!

    1. Hi, Kim.
      He used the BlendTec blender to get the macadamia nuts completely like whipped cream. He mixed in some oil, a little garlic, and hemp seeds (I think). I will get the recipe and post it here.

      Since I had Chef Matthew’s vegan caprese, I have ordered caprese twice and nothing has come even close. Nothing…

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