January 30, 2008
My husband and I attended a "vegetarian side dish" cooking class recently. The food was vegan and very tasty but had too much salt and oil for me. After years of eating healthy and delicious vegan cooking, my taste buds have become more sensitive, and when I sampled these foods all I could taste on the first bite was salt and oil. I think that most people would have found them delicious, but for me they were much too intense. I may season foods more heavily when cooking for company, but personally, I prefer to taste the foods themselves rather than the seasonings. One of the things we made in class was a walnut paté. The recipe only had 1 teaspoon of salt, which doesn't seem excessive, but it also had 3/4 cup of vegetable broth from a box. That stuff tends to be really salty unless you get the salt-free kind or make your own. And the recipe had 1/2 cup of oil in addition to the walnuts. So, using the teacher's recipe for inspiration, I've revised it to suit my taste, and if you make it, I hope you'll do the same and suit your own preferences.
I started by substituting mushrooms for half of the walnuts, and altering seasonings as well as ingredient proportions.
Walnut and mushroom paté
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
2–3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 slices whole grain bread, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 to 2 level teaspoons white miso
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 teaspoon natural sugar (sucanot, rapidura)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more if you want it hotter)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (rubbed between hands to release oils)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
-Toast the walnuts in a 325˚ oven for 10 minutes or until starting to brown.
-Grind walnuts in a food processor.
-In a wok or large skillet, sauté onions and mushrooms in the olive oil until onions are translucent. Add garlic and sauté another minute. Add bread cubes and rosemary and mix together. Turn off heat.
-Place the miso in a glass measuring cup. Add the sugar, cayenne and vinegar. Stir until the miso is dissolved.
-Add sautéed veggies and miso mixture to food processor and purée until smooth.
-Taste for additional salt and pepper. When all seasonings are whizzed in, add the parsley and pulse a few times to distribute evenly. If you are using green onion, add with the parsley.
Place in a bowl and sprinkle generously with paprika and minced parsley or green onions. (These patés always look too beige or grey and need a little help to look as good as they taste.) Serve as a dip with veggies or chips, or a spread with crackers or bread.
note: I just had a sandwich of paté piled with salad greens and a spritz of lime on whole wheat toast and it was delicious.