The trick to making a meatless pâté that even ravenous meat eaters will enjoy is to use ingredients with plenty of umami, the palate-satisfying richness found in foods with lots of glutamic acid. In this recipe, the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, lentils, walnuts and mushrooms all chime in on the umami note. For a meatless assiette de charcuterie, serve this with cold pickled onions, roasted red pepper cutlets, dense brown bread and a stout mustard. It is equally delicious spread on a sandwich or scooped up with crackers.
- 3/4 cups brown Pardina lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1-1/2 cups water, lightly salted
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce, separated into one and three tablespoons
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, separated into one and three tablespoons
- 1 whole garlic clove, smashed
- 1/2 small yellow onion, cut in chunks
- 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced lengthwise
- Nonstick spray or high-heat cooking oil (like Rice Bran oil)
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
2. Bring lentils and water to a boil in a medium saucepan with bay leaf, coriander and cumin. When bubbling furiously, turn down the heat and cover with a lid. Cook until very soft, about 25 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, combine the tablespoon of soy and tablespoon of vinegar in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms, garlic and onion and stir to coat. Coat baking sheet well with a few teaspoons of oil, using a paper towel or brush to spread it around evenly. Transfer the vegetables to the baking sheet and spread them out evenly across the surface. Let these roast for about 20-30 minutes, turning every 3-4 minutes with a spatula. They should be slightly caramelized and somewhat dry by the time they’re done. If they’re still very moist, let them cook for a while longer.
4. While mushrooms are cooking, toss the walnuts and lentils together. Roughly pulse them together, in batches if necessary, in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. The texture should be fairly coarse. Remove this mixture from the work bowl to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
5. When the mushrooms are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly on the baking sheet set over a cooling rack. Add them to the lentil and walnut mixture and mix them together with your hands or with two wooden spoons. Pulse this mixture together, again, in your food processor, fitted with a metal blade. Again, do it in as many batches as necessary to avoid overcrowding the work bowl. Add the remaining soy sauce and vinegar, and puree until smooth. With the motor running, pour the olive oil into the mixture and blend again. The result should be a moderately smooth mixture, but if you’d like it to be very silken you can puree it even further, until it is quite smooth.
6. Line the inside of a loaf pan (8 x 4 x 2”) with plastic wrap. Fill the loaf pan with the lentil, walnut and mushroom mixture. Gently tap the bottom of the loaf pan on a flat surface to settle the mixture. Place in refrigerator and chill until set, at least 4-5 hours or overnight, or serve immediately. The pate will be less firm but still delicious! Enjoy with crackers, cheese, pickles and nuts, add to a sandwich or roll in phyllo dough and bake for a lovely appetizer.