Fig + Olive Pâté with Seedy Snack Crackers

IMG_3315

Like most people, I tend to fall into the same routine when it comes to my daily snacks. My usual is to cycle through variations of dried fruit and nut or seed bars, which I make in batches every couple weeks and then grab and go mid-morning as needed. For later in the day or when I need hefty snacks, I often throw a big bunch of ‘functional foods’ in the blender and make a smoothie bowl that is mostly tasty, but more importantly packs a good nutritional punch to make sure I’m getting in what I need during training cycles.

The Recipe Redux challenged us to share healthy bites and bars this month and it ended up being the perfect incentive to put a new spin on my snacking go-tos, as well as finally experiment with a flavor and ingredient combination I’ve had in the back of my mind for months. The result is this absolutely delicious pâté.  It wasn’t exactly what I was after when I began, but that’s the beauty of the creative process. Sometimes getting out of our own way and letting the result happen leads to something even better than we’d imagined.

IMG_3318

Beyond the flavor, I’m really excited about the ingredients I’ve used here, how they work together, and the sprinkles of good nutrition they’ve got going on. Part of this is because I’ve added anchovies, and here’s why:

For almost a decade, my doctor has had me taking daily fish or cod liver oil for its high omega-3 content. Now that I’ve gone to nutrition school and read the research, I find there’s evidence that suggests taking fish oil supplements or eating fatty fish can help just about any illness condition or improve general health. The reason is because in our modern society we simply don’t get enough of the type of essential fatty acids called omega-3s–or more accurately, we eat too many of the other types, including the also essential omega-6s as well as saturated and trans fatty acids.

But on my journey towards nutrition school over the years, I started out with environmental sustainability in mind and our oceans’ health has long been one of my concerns. I’ve experimented a lot and continue to eat all the vegan sources of omega 3’s, but they involve a more complicated metabolic conversion and thus (for me as well as many others) are less hefty in their benefits. This has led me right back to taking my fish oil supplements even as I’ve questioned whether they’re contaminated with heavy metals, been oxidized during processing, or are simply unsustainable given the current state of global fisheries. This is definitely the case of the more you know the more complicated the scenario…

Over the winter months, I finally read The Omega Principle, which was less about the nutritional benefits of consuming fatty fish and more about every other aspect of the sustainability in doing so. If this is a topic you too are interested in, I highly suggest reading it.

Beyond all my chatter about the above, anchovies are one of the most nutritious and sustainable fishes we can eat. There is a subtle but definite umami thread to this pâté due to a small amount of anchovy paste, as well as a good base of hemp seeds which provide a balanced ratio of essential fatty acids from plant sources. Pureed together with sweet figs, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and a pinch of thyme and rosemary, and you’ll be wanting to snack on this sort of easy but fancy tasting treat all the time. I know I will!

IMG_3311

Fig + Olive Pâté, makes 4 small or 8 more substantial servings
Recipes notes: In my quest to make a savory snack bar, I added some cooked millet to thicken the mixture. The result was this thick pâté and not a bar at all. Beyond millet, you can add another leftover cooked grain like rice or quinoa, or leave it out if you don’t mind a looser more tapenade-like consistency. 

1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted
3/4 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs. anchovy paste
6 Tbs. hemp seeds
1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. fresh or dried thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely minced
1/3 cup cooked millet (optional, see notes)

  • In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and puree until they come to a thick paste that is almost but not completely homogenous.
  • Serve with crackers or sliced vegetables.

 

Seedy Snack Crackers, makes about 12 crackers
If you’re going to eat crackers, skip the boxed versions and make these instead. They are super simple, highly adaptable, and free from questionable oils. Plus they’ve passed the flavor test–they’re quite popular and quickly gobbled at parties! Double or quadruple the batch if you’re likely to share with others or snack on for several days.

2 Tbs. sesame seeds
2 Tbs. walnuts, chopped
2 Tbs. hemp seeds
4 tsp. ground flax seeds
1/4 cup amaranth flour (or other whole grain flour)
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. honey
1/3 cup water

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and combine until you’ve got a loose batter. Add more water if it’s not loose enough.
  • Line a small baking sheet with parchment, and then spread the seed mixture as thinly as possible.
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently cut into 12 pieces without separating them. Return to the oven and bake for 30 additional minutes or longer until they are crunchy and completely dry. They should no longer have a supple doughy feel to them.
  • Remove from the oven, cool completely, and then break into pieces.

recipe-redux-linky-logo

Advertisements

Crisp Rosemary Crackers

It’s finally beginning to feel like real summer here!  And when it’s summer, my eating habits change a bit.  I eat later dinners each night (think 8:30-9:00 pm), dine on fresh Hermiston Watermelons, and make huge veggie salads for lunch.  I’m not sure if these habits are because of the season, or as a result of habit from growing up on the hot side of the state, where true summers actually exist!

Lately too, I’ve been craving crispy, savory crackers and yesterday had a snack-lunch of crackers, hummus, and fresh vegetables.  There might have been a couple slices of salami thrown in there too, but, ahem, we ate it!  The rosemary and black pepper give a small hint of uniqueness to these little rounds, but even so, they pair nicely with a variety of other foods!  (Think cheese board, if you’re fond of eating cheese).

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

Crispy Rosemary Crackers, adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

3/4 cups gf flour mixture
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour (about 8 oz. of gf flour all-together)
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place a baking sheet on the middle rack to preheat.

Stir together the flour, minced rosemary if using, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.

Knead the dough gently in the bowl.  It should be compact but not stiff.

Divide the dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with a towel) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round.  Cut into cracker rounds with 3-inch round cookie cutter.  Remove excess cracker dough from rounds on the parchment, so the crackers won’t have to be picked up and moved.  Gently score the top of each cracker with a knife with a design of your choosing, if desired.

Then lightly brush the top of each cracker with additional oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper, if desired.  Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, about 10 minutes. Once baked, transfer parchment to a rack to cool.  Continue this process with remaining cracker dough on fresh parchment.