Pâté can be baked and served sliced, or it can be soft and spreadable, like chicken liver mousse. My original recipe, created in the 1980s to seduce gourmets who scoffed at the very idea of meatless pâté, was a loaf that included mushrooms, chestnuts, cashews, grated cheese, black bread whirled to crumbs, and more, baked in a long, rectangular pâté mold.
To suit today’s interests in vegan dishes and easy cooking, I decided to do a spreadable pâté made on top of the stove. Sautéed mushrooms look, taste, and even have a texture that is mildly meaty, so I kept them as the base, in a combination of three kinds, including fresh and dried. I added lots of shallots for moisture as well as flavor. Ground walnuts bring the creamy richness essential to pâté while adding good fat instead of the heart-stopping kind. For flavor depth, I included lots of thyme. For a final touch, I added a splash of soy sauce to bring umami, the indefinable fifth flavor that makes everything taste even better.
Walnut Mushroom Pâté
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ ounce dried porcini or wild mushrooms
- ⅓ cup hot tap water
- 8 ounce crimini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
- 8 ounce white mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
- ½ cup coarsely chopped shallots
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spread walnuts on baking sheet. Stir and toast 5 minutes, until nuts are colored and fragrant. Transfer nuts to plate, cool and set aside.
- In small bowl, soak dried mushrooms in water until soft, 20–30 minutes. When soft, squeeze mushrooms until dry, catching liquid in small bowl. Strain liquid through paper coffee filter or fine strainer and set liquid aside. Coarsely chop soaked mushrooms and set aside.
- In food processor, combine half fresh mushrooms with shallots, garlic, and half soaked wild mushrooms. Pulse to chop very fine, 20 times; take care not to overprocess. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped mushroom mixture, mixing to combine with oil. In food processor, finely chop remaining fresh and soaked mushrooms, then add to pan. (Do not clean out food processor.) Cook until mushrooms look wet, 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Add thyme, soy sauce, and reserved mushroom liquid. Continue cooking until mushrooms are golden and cling together, 8 minutes. Set aside.
- Add walnuts to food processor, and then cooked mushrooms. Pulse until mushroom-walnut mixture is nubbly; do not purée. Turn warm pâté into serving bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Or season pâté and cool to room temperature, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Garnish with parsley and serve with toast points, crackers, or pita chips.
Per Serving (1 tablespoon)
Total fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Carbohydrate: 2 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 1 g
Sodium: 10 mg
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