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Cucumber with caramelised cashews

cucumber with caramelised cashews

I made this Thai-inspired dish for dinner tonight, Paul loved it so much that he scored it a 10/10. The fragrant cashew mix once fried and seasoned takes on a very satisfying, savoury quality. This recipe from River Cottage makes a great tapas dish and can also be served as a main. 

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main 
1 tbsp coconut oil 
1 tsp tamari
2 medium cucumbers
2 tbsp rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp sugar
A large handful of coriander, mint or Thai basil leaves (or a mixture), roughly torn
A squeeze of lime juice, to taste 
Sea salt and black pepper
100g cashew nuts
6 spring onions, roughly sliced
2 lemongrass stems, tough outer layers removed, finely sliced 
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 
1 heaped tsp freshly grated ginger
1 hot green chilli (deseeded for less heat, if preferred), chopped 
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 tsp sugar 

To prepare the spicy cashew mix, put all the ingredients into a food processor or a high speed blender with a pinch of salt. Process to a coarse paste - it should be quite sticky and thick but with some bits of nut still visible. 
Heat the coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the cashew mix and fry for about 5 minutes, turning almost constantly. The underside browns quickly in the hot pan, so keep turning and tossing until most of the mixture has some nice brown colour but nothing is burnt. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the 1 tsp tamari and set aside while you prepare the cucumber. 
Trim the ends of each cucumber, then quarter lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Cut each length of cucumber into 5-10mm slices and put into a large bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix gently. 
When the cashew mix is cool, stir most of the herb leaves into it. Spoon the dressed cucumber onto a serving plate and scatter the cashew mix on top. Squeeze over some lime juice, sprinkle on the remaining herbs and serve 
Veg As an alternative to cucumber, the cashew mix is delicious heaped on to small lettuce leaves - with a little chopped avocado too if you like. 

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