Monday, July 13, 2009

Curry lentil crackers w/spinach-avocado dip

When I ordered Brendan Brazier’s The Thrive Diet from Amazon a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t wait till it came in the mail to try out one of his nutrient-dense dishes. A web search yielded this cracker recipe on the Vegetarian Times site. Curry + lentils? It was made for me! It also brought to mind another VT recipe for a great raw Indian dip I’d had my eye on for some time, and it just so happened I actually had spinach in my fridge (left over from my green smoothies). I knew they’d make a perfect pair.

For the crackers:
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup cooked or sprouted lentils
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2T balsamic vinegar
1T coconut oil
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp agave nectar
Salt to taste

For the dip:
4 cups (about 6 oz.) spinach leaves
1 large avocado, peeled, pit removed
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp minced fresh ginger
Dash chili powder
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash cumin

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor, combine all cracker ingredients. If you don’t have chickpea flour (I happen to, since I cook a decent amount of Indian food), I’m sure whole wheat pastry or all-purpose would work fine.

Pulse ingredients together, then process until incorporated. It will still appear grainy.

Lightly grease an 11x15-inch baking sheet with cooking spray or extra coconut oil. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet as thinly as possible. I used a wooden skewer as a miniature rolling pin, but this was still the best I could do:

Not quite a full pan, to say the least. Oh well; just call it "rustic." Gently score it with a knife to mark desired cracker size before baking. I also sprinkled them lightly with salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before breaking apart.

Meanwhile, make the dip. So as not to overload the food processor, I pulsed together half the spinach and half the avocado first, then added the other halves of each.

Once roughly chopped, add the remaining ingredients...

...and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl or container and refrigerate. The longer it chills, the yummier it gets. When the crackers have cooled completely, dip away! Is that a ridiculously vibrant green, or what?

The crackers are delicate, but hold up just fine against the lightly-textured dip. They’re hearty and filling (remember, all the saturated fat in these is coconut-derived), and the flavor is super-unique. I could pick out a faint taste of sunflower seeds, a tiny tang of balsamic, and just a whisper of curry and cumin. They’re salty, savory, and full of "umami." When the crackers are gone, there will be plenty of dip left, so plan to eat it with raw veggies, in sandwiches, on pita bread, as a veggie burger topping (which I tried; delicious!) or any other way you can dream up. Despite the seemingly minimal seasoning, it packs a massive flavor punch. I don’t see seasoned salt called for often in recipes, but I think it really made a difference here. And I’m telling you, this dip is downright silky. The luxuriously smooth avocado sends the spices spinning in all directions across your palate. And I couldn’t taste the spinach! Victory!

Crackers—Yield: 2 servings. Per serving: 258 calories, 17.6g fat (7g sat), 18.5g carbs, 6g fiber, 8.8g protein.
Dip—Yield: about 2 cups. Per 1/4 cup: 102 calories, 8g fat (1g sat), 8g carbs, 5g fiber, 2g protein.

If you like this, you might also like...
Indian spice hummus
Tuscan white bean dip

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  1. Yummers! That green is so pretty :> Sounds delish!

  2. I just bought Brendan's book too and look forward to reading it. I tried this dip, it definitely looks good, but the taste was a little too exotic for me. Any suggestions for toning it down? I thought I could try two avocados and less spinach? I would like to play around with it a little and find a milder version because I think it could be really good. G

  3. G—That's great that you got the book!
    I can see how this dip might be too strong for some palates. It may help to decrease the may also want to try it with less seasoned salt (I think that's what makes the flavors really take off), or perhaps less (or no) curry powder. A little more lemon juice may also help tame it.