Pate is one of those things I associate with holidays and special events. As a kid, it wasn’t something I particularly liked (Chicken liver? Liverwurst? What?!), but even though I rarely ate it, I loved seeing it on the table.
40 some years later, my reaction to chicken (or any other) liver is pretty much the same (ewww).
Fortunately, there are other options.
Mushrooms, lentils and sunflower seeds combine in a vegan pate that will please even your most determined omnivores (or at least the ones over 16). It’s just as celebratory (but decidedly less expensive than its meat-based counterparts), so you don’t have to save it just for special occasions.
Sunflower seeds make this nut-free, so it’s a good choice for a potluck.
The touch of molasses cooked in with the mushrooms may sound a bit odd, but it really helps build up the flavor, so don’t worry.
The pate is simple to make, but does involve a few steps. First you need to cook the lentils. While they are simmering, you can toast the sunflower seeds and cook the mushrooms.
The whole mixture then needs to be whizzed in a food processor until it’s very smooth. Spoon the pate into ramekins or other serving dishes. Ramekins can be unmolded on to the serving plate. Surround it crackers and bread.
This pate can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days. Serve it with crackers and bread for an appetizer. Add salad for a light lunch.
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml olive oil
- 1 cup / 250 ml chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 3/4 cup / 187.5 ml lentils
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml red wine
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml sage
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml freshly cracked pepper
- 2 cups / 500 ml vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup / 250 ml sunflower seeds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml olive oil
- 1/2 pound / 227g mushrooms (use cremini, button, or a combination of your favorite mushrooms)
- 1/2 tablespoon / 7.5 ml soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon / 7.5 ml molasses
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml dried thyme
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt (optional)
To cook the lentils, heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add oil and swirl it to coat the bottom of the pan. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the onions for 2 minutes or until they have begun to soften. Add the garlic and celery and continue to cook for another minute. Do not allow the vegetables to brown. If they start to brown, turn down the heat.
Add the lentils and toss them with the vegetables. Add the wine and simmer the mixture until the wine has evaporated. Stir in the sage and pepper, then add the vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cover. SImmer for 20 minutes.
Test the lentils: they should be tender with no dry bit in the middle. Continue to simmer with the lid off until the liquid has evaporated and the lentils are very soft. (This may take about 15 minutes depending on the age of your lentils. Turn up the heat if necessary to speed up the evaporation.) Add the cooked lentils to the food processor bowl.
While the lentils are cooking, toast sunflower seeds in a fry pan over medium-low heat. To keep them from burning, stir them frequently. When they are ready, you should be able to smell a light toasty scent. Remove from the heat and place the seeds in a bowl of a food processor. They will continue to toast if you leave them in the pan, so take them out of the pan to keep them from over-cooking.
Return the empty pan to the stove, and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until them until they begin to soften. Add the soy sauce and cook until they are glazed, then add the molasses and thyme. Cook until the mushroom have reduced in size and there is no liquid in the pan. Add the mushrooms to the food processor.
Pulse the mixture to blend the ingredients lightly, then turn the machine to slow. With the motor running, slowly pour in the warm water and process until the mixture is very smooth. Taste the pate and add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of salt if needed.
Spoon the pate into ramekins and smooth the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. The pate can be served in the ramekins, or unmolded onto a plate. Store unused pate in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Photo adapted from Foodista and used in accordance with Creative Commons licensing.