Sometimes great cheer comes from small statements.
If you keep walnut butter on hand, these easy little stacks will be a savory lunchbox option on short notice. It’s nice to give the kids (or yourself) a non-sweet snack once in awhile.
All you do is make a cucumber “raft,” top it with a dab of walnut butter, and press on a small pretzel. So fun! You can assemble the cucumber slices and walnut butter the night before and store in the refrigerator. Press on the pretzels in the morning before packing the lunch box.
Be sure to choose small, tight, very fresh cucumbers for this. Give a taste; if the skin is not bitter, there is no need to peel.
- 2 tight, sweet Persian cucumbers or pickling cucumbers (peeled only if the skin is bitter)
- 1 batch California Walnut Butter (recipe follows)
- A handful or two of 1-inch pretzels
- Slice the cucumbers into rounds ¼ inch-thick.
- Add small dabs of walnut butter.
- Gently press a pretzel on top of each.
- Pack into a small, shallow container with a tight-fitting top, and off you go.
For the Walnut Butter:
You can make walnut butter using raw, soaked, or toasted walnuts. Here’s how to do all three, and why they’re different.
- Raw: Use raw walnuts for a very creamy and smooth texture that tastes like a just shelled walnut.
- Soaked: This method will remove some of the tannin from the walnut skin, and offer a more textured walnut butter. Soak the walnuts overnight, drain and discard the water, and then reasonably dry the walnut on clean, plush kitchen towels. You can take this one step further by drying the walnuts in the oven. To do so, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place it in a preheated 250°F for up to 10 minutes. Watch carefully, so they won’t darken. Cool the walnuts before making the butter.
- Toasted: A slow, low-temperature treatment will provide deeper flavor and a more interestingly textured finished product. Toast walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet at 250°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fragrant. (Be careful not to let them darken dramatically, if they go this far, the flavor will become bitter.) Cool the walnuts before making the butter.
- 2 cups walnuts (raw, soaked, or toasted, as described above)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons roasted walnut oil or grapeseed or canola oil (as needed)
- A little honey
- A little cinnamon
- Combine the walnuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor and buzz until the nuts become slightly sticky.
- Add the oil a little bit at a time until the walnut butter holds together.
- Store in the refrigerator.
Yield: 1 cup