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Pounding the walnuts with a mortar and pestle helps give this paté its creamy texture, but if you don’t have one, use a food processor. Serve it with seeded crackers or thin slices of rye bread. Ume plum vinegar, made from umeboshi plums, is available at Whole Foods Markets and some larger grocery stores (on the international aisle).
1 pound beets
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted until fragrant in a 350-degree oven (8-10 minutes)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
Cracked black pepper, to taste
Minced parsley, for garnish
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the beets, but don’t peel them. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil and roast until easily pierced with the sharp tip of a knife, 45 minutes for smaller beets and up to 1 1/2 hours for larger ones. Unwrap. when cool enough to handle, peel them (the skin should come off easily), rinse and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, mash the garlic to a paste with the salt in a mortar and pestle.
Pound the walnuts to a paste with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle.
Coarsely chop the cooled beets and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor. Add the walnut and garlic pastes, the oil and the vinegar. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mound into a serving bowl and garnish with the parsley or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups, 6 servings.
Per serving: 130 calories, 3 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 630 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 5 g sugar
Roasted Sweet Potato Paté
This smooth, sweet paté is adapted from chef Rich Landau of Vedge in Philadelphia.
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
1/4 cup olive oil, or more to taste
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas
Hot water, as needed
Whole-grain mustard, crushed roasted cashews and baguette toasts for serving
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch chunks. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the oil, vinegar, onion, cumin, allspice, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Allow the mixture to cool just a little, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the chickpeas and puree until smooth and creamy. The paté should be quite thick but still able to move around in the food processor. If it’s too thick, drizzle in a little hot water or, for a richer result, drizzle in more oil.
Refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight. Serve with mustard, nuts and baguette toasts. Makes about 2 cups, 8 servings.
Per serving (paté only): 230 calories, 5 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 5 g sugar
Arbol chiles can pack a lot of heat, so if you prefer, omit them from the cooking process and add a dash of cayenne instead.
2 tablespoons raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium (about 8 ounces total) carrots
1 dried arbol chile, split in half lengthwise, seeds discarded
1-inch piece fresh ginger
2 teaspoons white or brown rice miso
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Soak the sunflower seeds in a small bowl with water to cover for 30 minutes; drain. Mash to a paste with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle.
While the sunflower seeds are soaking, toast the caraway seed in a small skillet over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Grind with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle and allow to cool.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and golden and reduced in volume by about two-thirds. Add the caraway seed, remove the skillet from the heat, cover and cool.
Peel the carrots and cut them into pieces approximately 1/2 inch by 1 inch. Transfer to a large saucepan or small Dutch oven and add 1 teaspoon of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the chile and 1/4 cup water. Bring almost to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the carrots are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool.
Peel the ginger and cut it into 2 pieces. Use the flat side of a knife to mash it flat, then mince; alternately, grate the ginger.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the carrots to the bowl of a food processor (discard the chile). Add the onion, ginger, sunflower seed paste, the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of oil, and the miso, and process until smooth and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the lemon juice and pulse to combine. Taste, and add salt if needed. Makes about 1 1/2 cups, 6 servings.
Per serving: 110 calories, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar
The herb-infused lentils are such a nice element of this paté that you might consider making extra and using the leftovers, including their liquid, to sauce pasta or rice. Serve paté with whole-grain crackers or rye toasts.
1/3 cup (about 3 ounces) dried brown lentils
2 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon medium-grain sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife, then minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon medium-dry sherry
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) pecan halves or pieces, toasted
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Cover the lentils with an inch of water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook until tender, about 20 minutes, adjusting the heat so the water is barely bubbling. Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme sprigs and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, then cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until warm. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and cook until translucent, 7 or 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes longer. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, toss to coat with the oil, cover partly and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until most of the remaining liquid evaporates. Add the sherry, and cook until it just glosses the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute. Cover the skillet and remove it from the heat.
Pulse the pecans in the bowl of a food processor until they are finely ground. Add the onion-mushroom mixture and process until just combined. Drain the lentils, reserving the cooking liquid for another use, if desired, and add them to the food processor along with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Process until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and pulse just until combined. It should be about the consistency of peanut butter.
The paté can be served in a bowl immediately, garnished with additional thyme, if desired. It can also be molded. Transfer the paté into a small loaf pan or bowl lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to serve, unmold onto a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Garnish with additional thyme, if desired. Makes 1 1/4 cups, 5 servings.
Per serving: 280 calories, 7 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 21 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 3 g sugar
By Emily C. Horton
Washington Post Service
There are certain things we expect from paté, no matter its constituents. We expect it to be rich, the flavor deep. We don’t expect to eat very much of it, but we expect it to linger.
Those same qualities are what a vegetable paté is after, and it is, perhaps surprisingly so, adept in achieving them. Vegetables are by turns, and by treatment, sweet, nutty, earthy, smoky, spicy. They can take on textures dense and smooth or ethereally creamy. The best in vegetable paté, then, takes philosophical cues from traditional paté — the depths of flavor and luxuries of texture — without aspiring to mimic them.
“There are two things you want in a vegetable paté,” says Amanda Cohen, chef-owner of the New York vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy. “One is a very strong flavor; the other is an intense depth of creaminess. … What you should expect is a very interesting taste sensation in a small bite.”
Almost any vegetable can be worked into a paté, but the ones that perform most successfully carry flavor profiles that lean on the side of sweet, with earthy undertones, and flesh fine-grained and dense. Think root vegetables, winter squash, or those not-exactly-vegetables, mushrooms. Nuts and seeds, pounded into a paste, contribute to a creamier, more substantial texture, as do legumes such as lentils and white beans, and fat.
A vegetable (not to be confused with vegetarian) paté, then, is not about making amends for something it is not, nor is it a substitute for a paté made with meat. A vegetable paté should instead be a celebration of the vegetable itself, an exploration of what that vegetable is capable of expressing. And you don’t need to be a vegetarian to appreciate it.
The culinary team at The Gracious Gourmet does a classic tapenade of olives, capers and olive oil. But we enjoyed the versatility of a couple of their other savory, lightly garlicked spreads. Lemon and thyme accent a mild, smooth Artichoke Parmesan Tapenade, while a chunkier Portobello Mushroom Tapenade gets its kick from cayenne and black pepper. Both will do double duty over the holidays as an appetizer spread on crisp toasts, tossed with pasta or served as a condiment with chicken or fish. Suggested retail price for a 7-ounce jar: $10. For a store locator or to buy: thegraciousgourmet.com.
Buying: Figure 1 pound per serving or, for ample leftovers, 1 1/2 pounds.
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