Summertime: the season of picnics, dips and spreads. Don't you love it?! :) I think it's also the season for simple recipes that don't take too much time and leave us more opportunity to get outside and frolic. In the spirit of quickness, balance, and deliciousness, this Lentil Apricot Tapenade is a great thing to have on hand in a big batch.
If you have a container of lentils prepared in advance, or you're using canned (rinsed and drained, of course!), this takes about 10 minutes to throw together. If you're prepping your lentils from scratch, allow for roughly 30 extra minutes for them to cook up. (That's 30 minutes to pack the rest of your picnic basket or figure out how to tie the complicated wrap for your swimsuit. Cool.)
I love love love this for several reasons.
I am a total sucker for great texture in a dish, and this has it all: crunchy almonds, creamy apricots, smooth lentils and that unmistakable crispness of raw onion. (I don't usually love raw onion, but it cuts through the other ingredients nicely here and also provides a pretty pop of purple!) The Vegan Aioli is a versatile little dressing. It's gorgeously smooth and makes this feel a little like a potato salad. Yum. I like to puree about three-quarters of the mixture and add the remaining chunky quarter back in for a gorgeously dip-like feeling, but if you want to blend the whole thing or eat the whole thing chunky, go for it. This tapenade is your jar of peanut butter and the consistency is alllll up to you!
Spread this on crackers and it's a whole other ballgame of textural awesomeness. (The ones shown here are Raincoast Crisps' gluten-free oat crackers. I get a little excited - and patriotic - everytime I see these. Raincoast is a great company from BC... no longer little, but definitely making an impact in the whole food snack world. It's worth the $7.99 for the box, every now and then.) If you're of the cracker-making persuasion, these Homemade Seed Crackers from I Quit Sugar are amazing, and surprisingly simple to bake up.
In addition to being a great picnic spread, cracker topper and dip, you can also toss this on top of a salad as a great source of protein or eat it straight from the bowl as a meal on its own. I like the addition of greens, just for balance, but it's a pretty complete little meal on the go if you need it to be. It's also a great swap in for a sandwich filling - like tuna or chicken or lobster - which you might otherwise mix with mayo. The vegan aioli has you covered there, and the 'meatiness' of the lentils covers the meaty quality of the animal protein. Give it a go on something like a Wrawp if you're avoiding gluten (or just want to try Wrawps. I'm obsessed. They're so good.)
If you're following a sugar-free diet, omit the apricots and swap in something with a softer sweetness. I've tried this with roasted sweet potato chunks, raw red pepper and a dollop of pumpkin puree (not at the same time: these were three different occasions), and while they change the taste of the tapenade, they're all really yummy.
In the spirit of picnics, enjoy this simple little dip! I'd love to know how you put it to use.
- 1 cup uncooked beluga or green lentils
- freshly ground pepper
- coarse sea salt
- 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh apricots, minced
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup vegan curry aioli
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- **If you're cooking your lentils from scratch, combine 1/2 cup lentils with 1 cup cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Once lentils are cooked, if you're using canned lentils...
- 1. Combine all ingredients - except aioli and lemon juice - in a bowl and mix until combined. If you're serving this chunky, set it aside. If you'd like more of a dip than a salad, transfer 3/4 of your mixture to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Recombine with chunky mixture.
- 2. Whisk together aioli and lemon juice.
- 3. Pour dressing over lentils mixture and serve.
- This is great on top of salad, served on crackers or as a dip.
- Store extra aioli in the fridge. Mixture will keep about 3 days in a sealed container.
- Aioli recipe can be found at http://fromthegroundupwellness.com/recipes/vegan-curry-aioli/.