Lentil Walnut Pate + Herbed Cashew "Goat Cheese" = One Fancy Picnic!

Heyo, bloggers! Last night my sweetie and I attended an orchestra concert as my birthday gift to him. We sat on the lawn, brought a picnic of fanciful spreads and kicked back, enjoying the crisp (yes, crisp) August night air. Picnics are wonderful on their own, but most public parks don't allow alcohol. Our venue was filled with concert-goers sipping vino - something that is a must when dining on fancy noms.

This organic and "suitable for vegans" cabernet was really fabulous. It wasn't too heavy, smoky, or bitter; its light and aromatic flavor was a perfect match for our spread.

While we still had some sunlight, we snapped some pics and dug into our picnic!

Clockwise from top: crudités, stone ground mustard, lentil walnut pate, olive tapenade, herbed raw cashew "goat cheese" with peppercorns, caramelized onion hummus, and an assortment of gf crackers.

Everything was splendid, save for the hummus. This was a recipe I winged, hoping that the onions would really shine through... but it ended up like all of my hummus pursuits do: bleh. I've made hummus from canned chickpeas and from dried beans and I'm still not sure what magic step I'm missing to make it yummers. Any feedback would be great!

The cashew cheese was based on Fork and Beans' Raw Vegan "Goat" Cheese Dip. I made the cheese and topped it with cracked Italian herbs, whole peppercorns, and fresh parsley before putting it in the fridge to set.

This was really fabulous! The apple cider vinegar gives it a bite and a depth that other cashew-based dips and sauces lack. It was very mild and had a light lemon flavor, yet really popped when in combination with the peppercorns and herbs. My beau wasn't crazy about how overboard I went with the peppercorns, but, what can I say... love me some pepper!

The Lentil Walnut Pate is from this recipe and was an absolute knockout - the star of the evening. It was my first culinary experience with umeboshi (pickled Japanese ume fruit paste - it can be found in the Asian foods section of many groceries, yet can be pricey). This tart paste added some serious depth to the spread and the miso added a cheesy tang. The hearty lentils and the sweetness of the onions and toasted walnuts also lent superb complexity. This recipe will definitely return for future potlucks!

What are your favorite picnic treats?

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