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
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.