Vegan Paté

For the longest time, paté disgusted me

In the beginning, or for a long time anyway, paté kind of disgusted me; for no good reason. It always seemed to be made with things I had no experience with, and therefore assumed – as many of us have and do – that I don’t like it and it’s probably gross. Most involved chicken or (occasionally) duck liver, and knowing the function of the liver I wasn’t entirely out of line in my assessment, but had no experience to base that off of.

It wasn’t until I was in my culinary safe space at Global back in the 2010s that I happened across a then more suitable / agreeable version – pork paté – with no mention of anything foreign to me within. For all I know it could’ve had strange stuff in it too, but I didn’t know that, so I gave it a try, and I was treated to a culinary sensory delight.

That presentation, and the same presentation I share with you here is one of my favorites in the tapas / small plate world, combining flavors and textures to create contrast and a sense of completeness.

A small slice of the paté was served chilled, along with crusty french bread, fruit compote, whole grain mustard, and baby gherkins.

As is often the case, the deliciousness of this dish had far less to do with the pork in it, and far more to do with the seasonings, the array of different textures, and the unique flavors offered by all the different components – which made it an ideal candidate for veganization. That reality — that good food is far less about whether or not it has meat, and far more about the overall texture and seasonings — is something I strive to share with others.

Soft chewy sourdough baguette, a rich, smooth, savory spread, tart whole grain mustard, sweet fruit preserves, and crispy tangy gherkins provided a tremendous amount of variety in both taste and texture. Salty, savory, sweet, sour.

This dish is an important one in the vegan culinary omnibus, because it accomplishes something that most people think isn’t possible – having that rich, savory experience; without meat.

One of the downsides of veganism is that many people fail to incorporate enough umami-containing food into their diet. Along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, umami is the flavor that’s responsible for giving food a meaty, substantial richness to it.

This is a dish that taught me to love mushrooms. Never the biggest fan of their texture, it’s undeniable what they contribute in terms of flavor, which has given me pause to come back around to them.

This dish is so amazing because it combines four out of five of those, including umami which so infrequently makes it in.

Vegan Paté

Course Appetizer
Cuisine French

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup walnuts lightly roasted or toasted – can be done in a skillet
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms button or cremini
  • ½ cup parsley chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

Toast

  • If the walnuts are not already roasted or toasted, toast them in a large dry skillet over medium heat. Take care to toss them frequently to toast them as evenly as possible and prevent burning. This will ruin the walnuts, so if it's your first time go easy or have some extra on hand. When finished, remove promptly and place in dish to cool.

Saute

  • With the same pan, add the olive oil over medium heat, and add onions and garlic, sautéing until the onions go soft and translucent; approximately 3-5 minutes.
  • Add in mushrooms, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper, continuing to sauté until the entire mixture has cooked and reduced. Depending on your mushrooms, this could take 8-10 minutes or more.
  • Turn off heat, and allow to cool from hot to warm for next step.

Process

  • If your food processor is not rated for hot food, allow to cool completely before proceeding. After the sautéed mixture has reached the ideal temperature, carefully add it to your food processor, along with the toasted walnuts.
  • Pulse the mixture, taking care to reincorporate the sides into the middle to produce a more evenly-textured mixture. You can process less to keep more texture for a more rustic feel, or more for a smoother mousse-like consistency.

Prepare

  • Once that you have the right consistency, it's time to plate it up.
  • If you are serving it immediately, you can spoon it out onto a serving platter along with the other accoutrements.
  • Alternatively, you can also spoon it into small serving ramekins.
  • If you plan to serve it later, or have extra beyond what you'll immediately use, it can be stored in any type of container, and can be refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for up to three months.
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