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Lentil spreads and pates

With so many commercial spreads having emulsifiers, stabilisers, binders, colourants and other unwanted non-plant derived or chemical additives, it’s hard to just pick up a jar of something and enjoy it. Products that vegetarians and vegans may depend on often have infamous ‘E’ numbers and it’s always worth looking them up. However, there is nothing nicer than something tasty to spread on a cracker, toast or a slice of fresh bread and it’s a good idea to have some little jars of goodness in the fridge or freezer so that you have them to hand when the need arises. Here are some recipes using brown lentils (you can either used canned or home-cooked ones – 1 drained can is the equivalent of 1 cup of cooked) to make spreads and pates, some really easy and some requiring a bit of time and effort…but all of them delicious!

Open 1 can of black lentils and drain well - reserve the liquid to add to soups or stews. Place the lentils in your blender with 1 tablespoon of olive oil; 1 teaspoon of salt; 1 teaspoon of cumin powder; 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar; smoked paprika or cayenne pepper to taste. Blend until thoroughly smooth, adjust seasoning as needed and place in a glass jar. Add a thin film of olive oil on  top to help preserve this simple and economical spread which works well as a wholesome dip as well.

Mince 1 onion and set to fry in a pan with a little olive oil. Add finely chopped garlic to taste and the chopped up top leaves of 2 sticks of celery. When onions are transparent, add 300 grams of minced mushrooms and stir into the onion mix. The mushrooms will yield their juice, and when this has evaporated, add 1 can of drained lentils and 1 cup of ground sunflower seeds, working them into the mushroom mix and stirring well. Add salt, pepper and smoked chilli flakes at this point. Reduce the heat to very low, place a lid over the pan and allow to cook gently for a further 15 minutes, checking to see that the mixture does not “catch”. Allow to cool in the pan, then transfer to a glass jar. This makes a wonderful sandwich spread or, if you are not eating bread, spread on a rice or corn cracker. A little sprinkle of fresh parsley beefs up the iron content and pretties up the snack.

Mince 1 onion and fry in a pan with olive or coconut oil. Add finely chopped garlic and 1 cup full of finely chopped parsley and chives. Let the herbs wilt and the onion get transparent, then add 2 cups of minced or finely grated carrots and stir together for a while. Put the lid on the pan and allow to simmer at low heat for about 10 minutes. Now add 1 cup of cooked buck wheat, working it into the mix, and finally 1 can of lentils, drained.  Mash them together until you have a coarse-grained paste, then season well with salt and pepper. Allow to cool and place in a glass jar; sprinkle with sesame seeds and a little olive oil. This works well on sliced toast, but also with boiled potatoes and a green salad as a meal.

Mince 2 large red onions and some garlic and set to fry in a pan with olive oil. Place 2 cups of spinach leaves, without stalks, in a pot and pour boiling water over them to wilt, then squeeze out the excess liquid and chop up finely. Add to the frying onions and stir around. Now add 1 can of drained lentils and cook together, mashing the lentils with the back of the spoon. Add 1 cup of ground almonds (almond flour) and work into the mix until it is quite dry. Place a lid on the pan, reduce heat, and allow to cook for a further 15 minutes, turning the mixture over in the pan. You may need to add a little extra oil. Season well and add cayenne pepper or smoked paprika if you like a little kick to the pate. Place in a glass jar and sprinkle a little almond flour on top, with a dash of olive oil and a little extra salt before putting the lid on. You can also roll the mixture into balls, coat them with almond flour, pop them in a zip lock bag and freeze, taking as many as you need for a delicious snack.          

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