Faculty Recipe: Rosemary Fig Walnut Butter

Walnuts, or “akshota” in Sanskrit, are sweet/hot/sweet: They possess a sweet taste, a heating energetic effect that aids in digestive function, and a sweet, nourishing post-digestive effect. Walnuts also have a hint of astringency, due to the naturally-occurring tannins and catechin found on the papery skin (pellicle) surrounding the kernel. Astringent foods are great for balancing both kapha and pitta doshas, and are often lacking in the standard American diet. Some examples of other astringent foods are green apples, grape skins, black tea, and pomegranates. Ayurveda teaches that we need each of the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) daily, if not with every meal.

Like walnuts, figs are also a sweet-building food, offering a variety of nutrients. They are excellent blood builders, containing a significant amount of iron and potassium, and also provide fiber. Rosemary boosts the sprits with its aroma, and is thought to help harmonize and strengthen the heart, as well as the emotions.

Makes about 2 cups.

4 cups raw walnuts
8 dried, unsulfured Turkish figs, chopped or torn into pieces
1/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
½ teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast 2 cups walnuts in oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned.

Combine with the remaining 2 cups raw walnuts and chop in a food processor, scraping down the sides as needed, until it has the consistency of a creamy butter. This could be up to 10 minutes, depending on your processor. The nuts release their oils more quickly when they are processed fresh out of the oven.

Add the figs, brown sugar, rosemary, and salt, and process until the mixture reaches desired consistency. Make sure the nuts have been ground to a fine paste before you toss in the remaining ingredients. Adding even the salt prematurely may interfere with the release of the oils.

Season to taste, adding more salt, figs, sugar, and/or rosemary as needed.

Find out about Ayurveda and nutrition programs with Lauren Gernady at Kripalu.