We're back with our monthly food post from YBC's Food Writer Allison. This month, she's sharing a delicious walnut lentil pâté! Hope you enjoy! xoCandace
I am an avocado toast fan. I do not care how much it is chastised by those that believe it's too basic, too overdone, too millennial, et al. The crunch of toasty sourdough bread beneath buttery avocado sprinkled with salt and olive oil is such a comforting taste and mouthfeel.
That being said...there is nothing wrong with looking outside of that dark green bumpy skin for inspiration, right?
There is a non-profit establishment in my hometown that I absolutely adore, Plantin' Seeds. They host events throughout the year, provide education on how to procure and use locally-sourced plant-based foods year round, and serve amazing pay - as - you - wish donation - based meals on Thursdays through Saturdays. Saturdays meals currently focus on locally-sourced produce with one predominantly featured item - such as corn, blueberries, or carrots - being showcased throughout the menu options. Recently, on a corn-centric visit with breakfast tacos featuring freshly-ground corn tortillas and vegan corn ice cream with a bourbon caramel sauce, an interesting item popped up: walnut lentil pâté. I was curious, albeit a hair skeptical upon first glance, about how it would taste. Let me tell you, I almost licked it off of my plate once there wasn't enough to easily spread on my toast anymore. It was delightful! It was flavorful, surprisingly not too nutty but boasting the flavors of the many spices mixed into it. It was such an unexpected surprise, a combination I honestly would not have conceived in my own brain.
I knew I had to make it for myself!
I did futz around with this recipe, as I honestly had no idea where to start. Ha! I searched Google for inspiration, eventually taking some points from a recipe via Goop; I may not trust their advice on regularly steaming my lady region or spending $300 on a plain white t-shirt, but they did help inspire the basis for this recipe.
At Plantin' Seeds, there was one flavor in their mix that I could not pick out at first. It was familiar, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. After a bit of sniffing around herbs at my local farmers' market - and yes, I do mean literal sniffing, haha - I settled upon thyme. Sure enough, it gave my recipe that same kick!
I won't mince words: this recipe is more labor intensive than it looks. It isn't as simple as throwing a bunch of ingredients in a food processor and pulsing away. You'll definitely be spending 45 minutes on this, minimum, between cooking lentils, stirring onions, and toasting walnuts. Is that effort worth it? Abso-freakin'-lutely!
There are many ways to serve this pâté. As you see here, I spread it on some lightly toasted sourdough baguette slices and topped them with some heirloom cherry tomatoes from my local farmers' market. It makes for a great appetizer or snack; my roommate Kait can attest, as she eagerly and happily ate the remainder of these photo shoot toasts for me. Ha! However, apply it as you please, from a spread on bread to a dip for vegetables, anything you can conjure!
Walnut Lentil Pâté
(Makes roughly 3 cups)
- 1 cup dried lentils (I used green organic sprouted lentils, but use your choice!)
- 2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or neutral-flavored oil of choice)
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 1 cup raw walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- Salt, to taste
- When making caramelized onions, I tend to use butter to cook them up. I don't think I ever used oil until developing this recipe, but I wanted to see how it would go because I wanted this to be friendly for plant-based or non-dairy eaters. I was pleased with the results! However, if butter is more your jam while cooking up caramelized onions, go ahead and cook 'em up with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter of your choice.
1.) To cook the lentils, bring 2 cups of water to a slow boil. Add lentils and bay leaf and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for approximately 20 - 25 minutes or until lentils are tender; if cooking sprouted lentils, you'll see their little sprouts popping out when they are finished! Remove bay leaf and set lentils aside.
2.) While cooking the lentils, add oil to a large deep saucepan and heat over medium heat. Oil should begin to shimmer. Add onions, and turn heat down to medium-low. Continuously stir. Onions should begin to brown and become caramelized after about 20 minutes; they should turn more brown as you cook them, but do not allow them to blacken and burn! Cook onions to your liking, between 20 minutes to 60 minutes, depending on how caramelized you prefer them; the longer you cook them, the sweeter they will get. Set aside when finished.
3.) To toast the walnuts, place a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and cook, occasionally shaking the pan to evenly toast the nuts, for 3 - 5 minutes. Remove from heat; do not allow nuts to smoke!
4.) Add cooked lentils, caramelized onions, and walnuts to a food processor along with tamari or soy sauce, lemon juice, and thyme. Pulse until thoroughly combined and spreadable. If you have a smaller food processor (such I as do!), divide ingredients and pulse ingredients together in two batches. Add salt, to taste.
5.) Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to four days.