One bite wasn’t enough. So I took another bite and then another to be sure. What a wonderful surprise that lentils, walnuts, mushrooms and fresh herbs would be so delicious. With its complex flavor, chunky texture and straight-forward preparation, Lentil Walnut Pâté has become my new favorite spread. I like to top it with a spoonful of Garlic Scape or Basil Pesto and a slice or two of avocado. Enfolded in a lettuce leaf, Lentil Walnut Pâté becomes a tasty, quick and satisfying high-protein appetizer or snack. With the addition of a few vegetables it easily transforms into a light yet filling breakfast, lunch or dinner.
A pâté for everyone
Pâté (pronounced pah-TAY) can be creamy smooth, chunky or molded. A pâté is usually a blend of seasoned ground vegetables and poultry, seafood or meat. Lentil Walnut Pâté is a rich and complex-flavored blend of lentils, walnuts, mushrooms and herbs. Its texture seems “meaty,” though it is vegetarian. The pâté can easily be made vegan by replacing the butter with an equal amount of olive oil. And can just as easily be made gluten-free with wheat-free tamari replacing the soy sauce. A pâté for everyone.
French Green Lentils. . .lentilles du Puy
Taking a cue from David Lebovitz, I’ve made French green lentils, known as du Puy lentils, the foundation of this pâté. These tiny, mottled, bluish-green lentils have a more intense flavor than other lentil varieties. Du Puy lentils are prized for both their rich, earthy flavor and their ability to hold their shape and color when cooked. No wonder they’re known as the “caviar of lentils.”
French green du Puy lentils can be found in the bulk section of natural food markets. Though I’ve just learned, that chances are those are similar and delicious imitations. Authentic, and rather more expensive French lentilles du Puy, grown in the volcanic soil of the central southern region of Auvergne, can be purchased online.
Inspired by and adapted from David Lebovitz and Rebecca Leffler’s recipe for “Faux Gras.” A great name, though without the smooth, creaminess of its namesake. To me, it seems so much more like a pâté. Addictively flavorful, in any case. Try it wrapped in a lettuce leaf with a little Garlic Scape or Basil Pesto. It’s hard to stop at just one.
Makes about 2 cups Printer-Friendly Recipe
Total Time 45 minutes
1 cup dry, rinsed French green lentils (du Puy lentils) (2 ½ cups cooked lentils)
1 large clove garlic, peeled, halved
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups water
1 cup walnuts
4 ½ ounces crimini mushrooms, rinsed, dried, sliced ¼ inch thick (2 cups)
1 small onion, peeled, ¼-inch diced (1 cup)
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled, very thinly sliced (1 ½ teaspoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or other red pepper flakes
½ + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
8 twists freshly ground pepper
- Place rinsed lentils, halved garlic clove and salt in a small saucepan along with 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cook 40 minutes or until tender. Discard the garlic. Drain the lentils saving the delicious liquid for another use.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the walnuts 7 minutes. Set aside.
- Slice the mushrooms, dice the onion and slice the garlic.
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, stir in the onion and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pan. Cook 5 minutes. Remove the lid. Raise the heat to medium. Stir in the sliced mushrooms. Cook 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Squeeze the fresh lemon juice. Chop the parsley and rosemary and separate the thyme leaves.
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until “chunky smooth.” Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. If you prefer a softer pâté, add a tablespoon of the reserved lentil cooking water.
- Serve Lentil Walnut Pâté at room temperature or chilled. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Accompany the pâté with sliced vegetables, lettuce leaves, crackers or bread. Cornichons (pronounced “KOR-nee-shons”), tiny tart and mildly sweet pickles, are a classic pâté accompaniment.