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 the sun chokes 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.
Sun Choke, Lentil and Walnut Pâté
- 3 Tbsp. refined canola or safflower oil
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1.5 tsp. tamari or soy sauce
- 3-4 golf-ball sized sun chokes, well scrubbed and roughly chopped into small pieces
- 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 3 cups water
- 2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 cups toasted walnut pieces
Preheat oven to 425 F. Whisk the oil, vinegar and soy sauce in a large bowl. Toss the chokes, garlic and onion in the bowl and mix to combine. Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the chokes are soft and the garlic and onions are dark brown.
In the meantime, bring the water, seasoned with the bay, salt and pepper, to a boil with the lentils. Cook lentils, covered, until they are very soft. Strain any extra liquid if necessary.
In a large-capacity food processor, purée the roasted vegetables together. Add the lentils and walnuts and puree until fairly smooth. Scrape the bowl down occasionally as needed.
Transfer the purée into a square loaf pan or pate form lined with plastic wrap or fine cheesecloth. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. For a very dense texture, place a similar sized loaf pan or form on top of the pate and fill it with dried beans, pie weights or anything that will press the surface down.
To serve, unmold onto a plate or serving platter and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with bread, crackers or vegetables. Makes about 3 cups.