March 04, 2013

Roasted sweet potato paté


A couple of months ago I had the good fortune to dine at Vedge in Philadelphia. Everything was excellent, but one dish stood out to my taste buds, and I was transfixed by the flavor. It was a sweet potato paté, and as I ate it, my brain was on overdrive trying to distill the ingredients so I could make it at home. When the waitress came by to ask how we were enjoying everything, I told her I loved the paté and asked her what was in it.  I asked nicely, mind you. "Chickpeas," she said with a sweet smile. Well, duh. Thanks, I guess.

I've made the paté several times in the last two months, and I think I've finally got a version I love. I don't know how it compares to the original, but I don't really care anymore because this one is so good, and I mean good, that it works for me. It's not hard to make but does require some attention to detail, but if you try it, I think you'll be pleased. OK, I'm being modest — this paté is fabulous and you should make it.

Roasted sweet potato paté
  • 1 medium sweet potato, washed and ends removed (1+ cups packed)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half from end to end)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, canned or home-cooked, drained)
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon truffle salt
  • fresh ground black pepper (generous)
  • olive oil for roasting
  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the potato, onion, garlic and chickpeas on the pan. Drizzle the onion, garlic and chickpeas with a little oil.
  3. Put the pan in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the time is up, remove the garlic (it should be softened) and reset the timer for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the onion. You want it to soften and caramelize a little but not burn. At the end of the 20 minutes it should be done. 
  4. Remove the onion and check the chickpeas. If they are starting to dry and color a little, they are done. You want them roasted but not too hard. Carefully remove the chickpeas with a large spatula.
  5. Continue cooking the sweet potato until it is soft, about 10 more minutes. If the potato is still hard, you can cut it lengthwise and place it cut-side down, to roast a little longer, until it is soft.
  6. Toast the sunflower seeds. You can do it in a pan on the stove, stirring constantly until they begin to smell toasty, or you can turn the oven down to 350˚ when the potato is done, put the seeds into a baking dish, and bake for about five minutes until they are toasted. Watch them and don't let them burn.
  7. Now that everything is roasted and toasted, it's time for the food processor. Add the sunflower seeds and process until finely ground but not ground into butter. Add the chickpeas, parsley and salts, and grind. Add the sweet potato, onion, peeled garlic, vinegar, liquid smoke and black pepper, and purée until smooth. You may need to scrape down the processor bowl a few times. 
  8. The paté will be quite stiff. You can pack it into a decorative container and refrigerate it until serving time, or serve it warm, as is. Serve with crackers, or on small sourdough toast rounds. Or serve with raw carrot and celery sticks.
So really, this is not such a big deal to make — you're basically putting everything into the oven to roast, then puréeing it all in a food processor. If you use parchment paper or a silpat, there's not even much to clean up. If I'm having a bunch of people over for dinner, and don't want to feel stressed out with a ton of cooking, I make a couple of things the day or night before, and this is one of those things that is great made the day before.


Truffle salt may not be in your pantry. I was gifted a small two-ounce jar, and when it's gone I'll definitely be replacing it. It's a little expensive but you use a very small amount so it lasts quite a while. Mine is called Truffle Queen 10% concentration, it's from Italy and distributed by La Buena Tavola Truffle Café in Seattle. It's very potent and makes the paté more amazing, but if you don't have any, just skip it. But, seriously, a little touch of truffle salt will make you happy. I swear. (I have another kind of truffle salt that tastes just like regular salt. You have to get a good one that smells and tastes like truffles!) Get yourself some truffle salt and use it sparingly so it lasts a long time.

I'm also trying to think of a flavor other than truffle salt I could add to the paté that will be as dramatic in flavor but not in cost. Next time I make the paté, I'll give it a shot.

This post has been entered in Wellness Weekend.

24 comments:

  1. Oh, man, does this ever sound fantastic! Yes, I will take your advice and make it. And isn't it great when you create something based on something else but your love your own something even more? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It IS fantastic. Especially if you use the truffle salt. Maybe truffles aren't ACD-friendly, though, since they are fungus.

      I'm pretty sure if I went back to Vedge, I'd order the smoked sweet potato paté again, even though this is a pretty great replacement. :)

      Delete
  2. Of course, I adore the little Weck jar container right away! I have to make this pate for my husband. He's such a sweet potato fan. He's going to be completely in love, I just know already!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, the Weck jar. :) It's not the really little one but the next size up. They are so cute, but all the pieces can get bothersome.

      I'd like to know if you make this and what your husband thinks!

      Delete
  3. You know, I've heard truffle flavoring gets put in everything fancy but I've yet to taste it! I wish someone would give me a small jar!
    The pate does sound fantastic. Kathy Patalsky made a sweet potato/hummus mash that I loved and I can see this being similar, but classier. The sunflower seed addition sounds great too. They really add an interesting flavor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I looked up the truffle salt I have and was pretty surprised it cost $22.95! I may have to find a flavor sub for truffle salt, though I can't think of one off hand. It would have to be a completely different flavor but equally delicious. Any suggestions?

      Delete
  4. oh man, i can't wait to try this andrea!!
    xo
    kittee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I'm wondering how it would taste without the truffle salt. That stuff would probably make rubber taste good.

      Delete
  5. mmm i'd love to try this! i want to go to the vedge really badly! And i should since i am frequently in the philly area

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, save your pennies and go to Vedge. It's pricey, but worth the splurge. And order the wood-smoked sweet potato paté. Or anything on the menu, actually! Get a reservation a few days ahead, by the way.

      Delete
  6. Wow, good job on deciphering that recipe! I'm still working on decoding a hot and sour soup from a local favorite restaurant. Now, off to look for truffle salt!

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    Replies
    1. Hot and sour soup is really good! I'll be watching your blog for a recipe. :)

      Delete
  7. I haven't got any truffle salt but I'd love to make this (a big compliment coming from a sweet potato skeptic). Do you think truffle oil would help do the same job? Mind you, I bet it would taste amazing truffle or no truffle.

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    1. I'm no authority on truffle salt or oil, but if the oil is really fragrant, you should be able to achieve the same effect with a teaspoon or so. You'll probably need extra salt to make up for leaving the truffle salt out. The recipe makes a lot, so you might want to halve it.

      Delete
  8. Wow. That sounds fantastic, Andrea! I love how roasting things makes everything taste good...roasting the chickpeas and onions along with the sweet potato is brilliant!

    Courtney

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No kidding about the roasting. I have to force myself not to eat the onion, and save it for the paté! Next time I should just roast an extra one for me.

      Delete
  9. Sounds sweetly carbalicious! I think I've tried everything at Vedge but the SP pate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Next time you go, you know what to do ...

      Delete
  10. This is my kinda recipe! I love all of the flavors here, and when I shared that pate with an omni friend of mine, he declared it one of the best things he'd ever had.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! When I first tasted the paté that inspired it, those were my feelings exactly.

      Delete
  11. I'm very interested in this recipe - and the truffle salt!

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    1. I love it. I was kind of surprised at how pricy the truffle salt was, but it makes such a big flavor impact and you only need a little.

      Delete
  12. How about a little curry instead of truffle salt? Totally diff flavour, but maybe yummy!

    ReplyDelete

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