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
Host a chilled-out garden party with four fresh and cool soups.
(Makes 5 servings)
- 1 hot house cucumber, halved and seeded (not peeled)
- ½ red bell pepper, cored and seeded
- ½ yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded
- 5 plum tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 24 ounces canned tomato juice
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup good olive oil
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt (optional)*
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Put each vegetable separately in food processor fitted with steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Do not overmix. After each vegetable is processed, combine in large bowl and add garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir and chill for 4 hours before serving.
Fat: 11 g
Protein: 2.5 g
Carbohydrate: 14 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 1106 mg, *without adding kosher salt: 399 mgRecipe courtesy foodchannel.com
A to Z Soup (Avocado Zucchini Soup)
(Makes 4 servings)
- 4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 green onions, sliced into ½-inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups zucchini, thinly sliced
- 2 large, ripe California avocados, seeded, peeled, and chopped
In large pot with lid, heat 1 cup broth, onion, green onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. When boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add remaining broth and zucchini and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove lid and allow to cool. In food processor, purée zucchini, broth, and avocado in batches. Return to pan; stir gently. Serve in soup bowls and garnish to taste.
Fat: 13 g
Protein: 10 g
Carbohydrate: 15 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 470 mgRecipe © The California Avocado Commission
Cool Cucumber Soup
(Makes 4 servings)
- 2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated with box grater/food processor
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
- ½ cup low-fat sour cream
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Salt and white pepper (if you have it, black if you don’t), to taste
Combine all ingredients in food processor. Transfer to bowl, stir, and chill. Serve topped with any of the following: chopped cucumber, fresh dill or mint, dollop of sour cream or yogurt, diced avocado, snipped chives, or green onions.
Fat: 3 g
Protein: 15 g
Carbohydrate: 21 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sodium: 145 mg
MMM… Soup (Mango-Melon-Mint)
(Makes 4 servings)
- 2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and chopped
- 2 cups cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
Purée all ingredients in food processor or blender and chill for 2 to 3 hours. Pour into glass bowls, garnish with mint leaves, and serve.
Fat: 0.5 g
Protein: 2 g
Carbohydrate: 27 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 21 mg