awesome allium crackers

Looking for a new flavor to fill the void of mid-spring, when the previous fall’s stored butternut wanes and we don’t yet have local broccoli for croccolis, I started playing around with what is abundant and nutritionally so important this time of year– Alliums!  Spring’s rainy weather and temperature swings can make us all vulnerable to colds, and alliums like onions and garlic offer proven immune-boosting properties, helping inhibit inflammation. I won’t bore you with the details of why alliums are awesome here, but you can read more about the benefits of onions in a quick summary by Care2.

I use spring onions and green garlic (currently from Bellair Farm) in this recipe, roasting them lightly to enrich the flavors. I suspect I’ll probably continue to tweak the spices this season to find the perfect flavor combination, but here is the present ingredient list:

golden flax seeds*, millet*, sunflower seeds*, locally grown spring onions (Allium x proliferum), green garlic, water, dates*, unfiltered apple cider vinegar*, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cumin*, black pepper*, turmeric*,  brown mustard*

           (*certified organic)

mexicali green bean crackers

With the spinach season waning for my local source (Broadhead Mountain Farm) and most other farms in the area, I set to work finding a replacement for tangy three seed spinach crackers, which seemed popular at market these past two Saturdays. What green vegetable could I transform into something crunchy, savory, and snackable? 

Our garden had the answer. Back in mid-March, when no one in their right mind would plant summer crops without some kind of row cover, my husband and his visiting father dutifully heeded my suggestion to go make themselves useful in the yard.  When he told me he planted peas and bush beans, I rolled my eyes? “Beans? Seriously? It’s way too early.” Scoff I did, and those few little seedlings struggled sadly as if to substantiate my skepticism. But now, three months later, they are going gangbusters. And in perfect garden irony, volunteer cilantro thrived temptingly right next to the tomato plants that we still a month from fruiting to salsa satisfaction. Every year, I bemoan the fact that by the time tomatoes are ripe, the cool-loving cilantro has bolted, set seed, and become bitter enough to ruin any attempt at salsa.  So I enjoy it when I can, making cilantro bean dips and salad dressings throughout the spring. Thus, in the garden, the inspiration for this new cracker was born, and I like how thin and crisp they can get if I keep a watchful eye to prevent burning!

I jokingly called this the Seedy Mexican Cracker around the house (it’s like two bad racial jokes in one!), but thankfully one of my farmers market customers offered an alternative that allowed me to re-name version 2.0. By weight, they are mostly fresh green beans and golden flax seeds, but the cumin and cilantro shine through nicely without overpowering. Next time, I might add some sun-dried tomatoes (we still have some from last year’s garden) for some specks of color.

p.s. Props to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for selling a Provider Bush Bean that can survive planting in a wet chilly spring. Here’s to good genetics!

Ingredients: homegrown green beans, organic flax seeds, organic sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic seedless raisins, extra virgin olive oil, homegrown onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh cilantro, sea salt, organic cumin, organic garlic powder, organic orange extract.

Savory Spinach & Seed Crackers

For the second day of this week’s snack duty, I was infected with both a premature preoccupation with St. Patrick’s Day and a craving for greenness. I can only chalk these urges up to cumulative Vitamin D deficiency. Thus, spinach and shamrocks were nonnegotiable. In researching other spinach crackers, I was disappointed with the dull spectrum of greens characterizing the final products, so I tried a couple tricks- blanching the spinach (which sort of “locks in” nutrients and mitigates color fade by stopping enzymatic action) and combining sunflower seeds with a tiny bit of baking soda, which leverages the same reaction as the Oscar the Grouch Cookies.

"Raw" shamrocks, before baking
“Raw” shamrocks, before baking

Since the Butterfly Beet Crackers made previously this week were a little sweet (but not sweet enough, actually, since I think kids expecting a butterfly shaped cookie felt duped), I risked full-on savory with these shamrocks, playing with cumin and paprika. Olive oil is the only thing making these nonpaleo, technically, so the purists out there can sub lard or coconut oil. Of course, they are much easier to make into squares or triangles (which makes them look like chips), so I would only go the shamrock route if you have plenty of time and an acute need to woo an Irishman. Feel free to adjust the spices and use some different herbs to suit your (or your favorite Irishperson’s) fancy.

Savory Spinach & Seed Crackers
Serves 20
A deep green, grain-free cracker that pairs well with fresh salsa or a creamy cheese dip. Packed with spinach and essential fatty acids.
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108 calories
5 g
0 g
9 g
3 g
1 g
33 g
220 g
1 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
33g
Servings
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 108
Calories from Fat 78
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
14%
Saturated Fat 1g
5%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 220mg
9%
Total Carbohydrates 5g
2%
Dietary Fiber 3g
14%
Sugars 1g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
22%
Vitamin C
8%
Calcium
4%
Iron
6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup ground golden flax seed
  2. 1 cup sunflower seeds
  3. 1/4 cup chia seeds
  4. 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  5. 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  6. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  8. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 4 tablespoons olive oil
  10. 8 ounces fresh spinach leaves (about 8 cups coarsely chopped). You can also use 1+ cup frozen spinach, as it is already blanched. You want to end up with 1 cup pureed spinach.
  11. 1/2 peeled orange
Instructions
  1. Combine sunflower seeds, flax seeds in a food processor (I used a Nutribullet) until crumbly but not super fine. Put the contents into a medium bowl, and set aside the food processor as you will use it again and don't need to clean it out.
  2. Add garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and baking soda to the ground seeds, and whisk thoroughly to combine.
  3. Add an inch of water to a steaming pot and put the fresh spinach in a steaming basket. It will look like a lot, but cook down. Turn the stove eye on to medium heat, add the lid, and let the spinach steam until just wilted and bright green, about 5 minutes. Do not let it turn to mush. As soon as it's hot, green, and wilted, remove the basket and plunge it into a bowl of ice water for 1 minute.
  4. Retrieve the cooked leaves from the water and put them in the food processor with the half of an orange and olive oil. Purée until very smooth.
  5. Add the green purée to the seed/spice mixture, using a little spatula to get it all out of the processor and off the blades.
  6. Combine thoroughly, kneading any remaining bits into the dough by hand, making sure to work in any clumps of seeds. You want a thick ball of dough, so only add 1 teaspoon or so of water (preferably the water remaining from the steaming) if necessary.
  7. Divide dough in half and shape each into a ball. Place both balls on a large sheet of parchment paper (big enough to cover a cookie sheet) and flatten each into 1 inch-thick square. You may find it helpful to refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow dough to firm up before rolling. Once dough has chilled, heat oven to 350°F.
  8. Working with one ball at a time, roll out one ball of dough on the parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness (but no thinner!) and, using a knife or pizza wheel, cut into whatever shape you like, as long as it's consistent. Squares or triangles would work fine, but I used a shamrock cookie cutter for the sake of St. Patrick's Day, which required using a spatula to transfer to another lined sheet. Uniformity is important to assure even baking, so just make sure each baking sheet contains only squares, or only shamrocks, etc.
  9. Once cut, separate the pieces on the parchment-lined baking sheet so that they are at least 1/2 inch apart.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes and turn the oven off. Flip the pieces upside down on the sheet so that the bottoms don't brown too much, and return to the warm oven for another 8-10 minutes until they are crisp but not browning. Remove from oven and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. Makes about 75-80 1.5 by 1.5 inch crackers, approximately 4-5 cups.
beta
calories
108
fat
9g
protein
3g
carbs
5g
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