There is a nice depth of flavor added by the toasted cumin, rosemary, and smoked paprika, and while the salt might seem excessive it seems to be needed for this quantity of lentils (note that I do not add any salt to the water I use to cook the lentils). This makes a large batch, so if you want a smaller amount just decrease everything by half. In addition to being a delicious spread for crackers, crostini, or fresh vegetables, this also makes a tasty sandwich spread. When chilled this firms up nicely and can be “molded” into shapes, just like liver pate. The toasted nuts and spices give it a savory umami depth that would fool a lot of carnivores.
The flavors really develop after an overnight stint in the fridge, and you can serve this warm, cold, or at room temperature. Make sure your lentils are well drained for the best texture.
Red Lentil and Toasted Walnut Pate
2 cups cooked and drained red lentils
juice of a lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (start with less if you are worried, then taste and adjust)
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper, to taste)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup walnut halves
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 cup chopped white onion (about one medium onion)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Place the drained lentils, lemon juice, sea salt, Aleppo pepper, and smoked paprika in a food processor.
In a dry skillet, toast the walnuts and cumin over medium-high heat until they begin to smell toasty. Stir frequently, and do not let them burn. Add the walnuts and cumin to the food processor.
Add the onion and olive oil to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the rosemary for the last minute or two of cooking. Add the cooked onion mixture to the food processor.
Process the mixture until smooth, and serve warm with crackers, crostini, and/or fresh vegetable sticks. Alternatively, refrigerate overnight and serve cold or at room temperature.