Warm Lentil Walnut Spread
Crackers are so much better when you have something to dip them in. There is something so delightful about the combination of smooth and creamy with a light crunch. This delicious spread is a perfect midday snack when paired with crackers or toast but also elegant enough to be served at an evening cocktail party alongside crudite.
½ cup walnuts
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, sauté slice (1/8 inch wide)
¾ teaspoon chickpea miso
¾ teaspoon umeboshi paste
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Toast Walnuts: Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place walnuts on baking sheet and toast 7 – 10 minutes or until walnuts are golden and fragrant. Cool to room temperature.
In a small pot, add lentils, stock, bay leaf, thyme and salt. Cover pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 25 – 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove bay leaf and thyme stems. Drain lentils; reserving the liquid. Return liquid to the pot and reduce to a syrupy consistency. Place lentils and reduced liquid into bowl together. Set aside.
In a small sauté pan, heat oil. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat. If onions begin to stick add a little vegetable stock. When onions are browned and tender, add garlic. Cook a few minutes more stirring frequently to make sure garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine nuts, onions, lentils, miso, and umeboshi paste. Process until you have a thick, smooth, and creamy spread. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on bread or crackers.
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Substitutions: If you don’t have umeboshi paste or can’t easily find it, substitute it with 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
Umeboshi plums have been consumed for centuries in Asia. They are an amazing alkalizing food. They can be used as a salt substitute when cooking, or added when preparing grains and vegetables to enhance the flavor. One plum can also be eaten first thing in the morning before breakfast to help stimulate healthy digestion throughout the day. Umeboshi plums are very high in iron (important for stress reduction and immune function), thiamin (important for healthy nervous system, metabolism, and digestion), and riboflavin (formation of antibodies, healthy metabolism, and cortisol production) – making it an ideal ingredient for Pros on the go! Umeboshi plums are said to have been used by the samurai to keep up their stamina and to avoid fatigue.
They are also great to have on hand after lengthy travel to avoid nausea and exhaustion. They are also helpful in combating nausea in pregnancy.