Do you love dips, patés & spreads as much as I do? They're so quick & easy to make & are great to keep in the fridge for snacks & light meals. And they're versatile - fantastic on sandwiches, toasted ciabatta, flat breads & wraps, with crispy vegetable batons, served in a crunchy lettuce cup with crusty bread for a starter, great for parties, etc, etc.
I love the classics like Hoummous or Baba Ghanoush, but I like to experiment with a whole range of different ingredients in my dips & patés...broad bean & hazelnut, spicy pumpkin & peanut, french bean & almond...what a yummy way to eat more vegetables, nuts, beans & pulses!
What's the difference between a dip & a paté you might ask? Well I think dips normally have a softer consistency (more suitable for dipping, naturally), & patés are not only firmer, but often richer, as you eat less of them, spread on toast, etc.
This recipe is one I've adapted from a little book I bought in the 90s, Vegetarian Barbeques by Sue Ashworth. It really is delicious - very mellow & buttery, but spiked with a little spiciness & the freshness of the lime & coriander - & it's vegan too! If you cut back on the margarine & nuts by half for a lower fat version, I'm sure it would still be really tasty.
Buttered Nut & Lentil Paté
1/2 cup red lentils
1-1/2 cups vegetable stock (I use Massel stock powder)
3 dried bay leaves 60g
(1/4) cup vegan margarine (such as Nuttelex) - butter is fine too, or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teasp smoked paprika - or cayenne pepper, or ground dried chiles, depending on how spicy you want it
1 heaped teasp ground cumin
1 cup raw cashew nuts - almonds are fine too
juice of one large or two small limes
1/2 bulb roasted garlic*
small bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped (including the stalks)
salt & pepper
Makes around 3 cups
Wash the red lentils thoroughly until the water runs clear, then simmer in the stock with the bay leaves for about 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft & the liquid is absorbed. Take out the bay leaves.
Melt the margarine in a frying pan & sauté the onions until golden. Add the paprika & cumin & continue cooking for an extra few minutes, then toss in the cashews & sauté gently on a low heat until toasty, golden & fragrant - don't let them burn!
Plonk the nut mixture & lentils into a food processor with the lime juice & blend until smooth. You'll probably have to add a little water to get a smooth consistency, but add it a tablespoon at a time, as you don't want t overdo it. Then throw in the coriander & zap a few more times.
Season to taste & serve at room temperature.
*Roasted Garlic I love roasted garlic & often roast up a few bulbs & keep them in the fridge to use in dressings, soups, etc during the week. Very simple to prepare... Simply slice the pointy top off the garlic bulb revealing the tips of the cloves (cutting through their skins so the actual garlic is revealed), drizzle in a little olive oil so it seeps within the cloves, then wrap in foil & roast in a moderate oven for 30-45 minutes until the cloves are beginning to turn golden & caramelise (you can peek a couple of times if unsure). Remove from the oven & peel back the foil to let it cool, then you simply separate the cloves & squeeze the soft garlic out of the skins. Roasted garlic is very sweet, mellow & nutty but still packs a garlicky punch. Really fabulous, particularly in salad dressings & aioli in place of raw garlic.