Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil pink peppercorn pateSwapping out a meat-based ingredient for a plant-based one is a balancing act of texture, taste qualities (like umami) and flavors from aromatic compounds. Particularly with liver—can you think of any plant that tastes or smells like it? Please let me know if you do.

Liver is a cheap ingredient that many cultures embrace and adore but can be an acquired taste due to its strong odors, unique and sometimes metallic flavors and texture challenges. My first whiff of liver was thanks to my childhood friend Mary whose father regularly cooked the beef version as a breakfast “treat” on his favorite cast-iron pan.

I dreaded being asked to try it, but never was asked. I didn’t taste liver until I lived in Paris, where you were expected to appreciate pâté.

Pâté commonly uses chicken liver which has distinct poultry flavors, but this umami-rich lentil version is popular at parties among traditional pâté-lovers and non-meat eaters. Walnuts and mushrooms add texture and savory notes (particularly umami from plant-based glutamate). Cornichons and lemon add brightness, cayenne gives a hint of eat, Madeira offers a soupçon of sweet and pink peppercorns surprise with complex flavors like resin.

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pâté

Makes nearly 2 ¾ cups

Pate Ingredients

¾ cup dried green lentils (if using cooked about 2 cups)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut pieces (about 5 ounces), toasted
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
few pinches cayenne pepper (less than ⅛ teaspoon)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
12-14 (about 10 ounces) medium-sized cremini mushrooms
¼ teaspoon salt
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon Madeira or marsala
8-10 cornichons, diced fine (about 3 tablespoons)
1 ½ teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed

Prep Steps

  1. Check lentils for debris, put in pot, add 3 cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer for 20-24 minutes or until lentils are tender (more tender than if using in a salad). Drain well in a colander to remove excess water. This can be done a day in advance.
  2. Toast walnuts in a skillet. Add walnuts, lentils, lemon juice, tamari, thyme and cayenne to a blender.
  3. Clean and dry mushrooms and cut into 1/4”-1/2” thick slices. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add mushrooms and sprinkle with the salt. Cook without stirring until browned on one side (about 6-8 minutes), toss them and cook 4-6 more minutes. Add to blender.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet then the onions and garlic, cook 4-6 minutes. Add madeira and sweat the onions about 6 more minutes or until onions are soft and liquids have evaporated. Add to blender and process pâté until smooth.
  5. Scrape mixture into a mixing bowl. Mix in one teaspoon of peppercorns and 2 tablespoons of cornichons. Use remaining ½ teaspoon of peppercorns and tablespoon of cornichons as garnish. Refrigerate until use, keep for 7 days in the refrigerator or freeze for a couple months.

Pate Serving Options

1. Serve pâté with crostini, baguette slices, toasts, crackers or on slices of cucumber.
2.It also works as a sandwich spread or a filling to stuff cherry tomatoes.

Other Veggie-Meat Swaps

Try this other savory use of walnuts to mimic meaty-umami flavors in my walnut, mushroom ragout.

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Quick Pickled Leeks with Lime

Quick Pickled Leeks with Lime

Quick Pickled Leeks with Lime

Leeks are versatile, but most often, are cooked until soft or used as an aromatic veggie in stocks. This recipe for pickled leeks lets them maintain a fresh texture and flavor. In less than 10 minutes, hands-on, you have a versatile, delicious garnish and ingredient for multiple dishes.

Many recipes for pickled leeks combine two acids, a vinegar and a citrus, typically lemon. In this recipe, lime is a perky final touch that pairs well with starch-buttery leeks. A hint of heat from garlic and mustard seed doesn’t suck either.

 Pickled leeks with lime

Ingredients

2 leeks, each about 1½ in diameter
1 cup water
3/4 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
½ teaspoon yellow mustard seed
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (one large-sized lime)

Steps:

  1. If the leeks are not trimmed, remove outer, tougher stalks, slice the root ends off and cut each stalk lengthwise in half. Under running water, fan the leek layers under running water or swish the halves in a bowl of water. Take each half and slice into moon-shapes about 1/4-inch thick (about 4 cups leeks when done.) Add to a pickling jar, glass or ceramic container.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water, vinegar, salt, sugar, garlic and mustard seed. Bring to a boil and add thyme. Remove saucepan from heat and leave for 4-5 minutes or until you can discern a hint of thyme when tasting. Add the lime juice.
  3. Remove the thyme from the pickling juice then pour juice over leeks. Press leeks so the liquid just covers them. Add a couple tablespoons of water if needed and stir into leeks.
  4. Cool pickled leeks in the refrigerator uncovered, but cover when cooled to store. Since this is a fast pickle and not one done with long-term preserving methods, you can only keep in the refrigerator up to two weeks, but they won’t last that long!

For more information on using leeks, their most excellent nutrient profile, why they work so well in stocks and how they star on their own in a dish, check out my article in Food and Nutrition Magazine on leeks.

Pickled Leek Serving Options:

Legumes and Veggies: use as a garnish on grilled vegetables and add to bean salads
Grains: use an ingredient in grain or pasta salads to add textural interest and flavor contrasts
Poultry: use in omelets, scrambled eggs, chicken salad and to garnish roasted poultry
Cheese and sausage: serve as a condiment

 

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Chickpea Corn Cakes: Crave-worthy Carbs

Chickpea Corn Cakes: Crave-worthy Carbs

Chickpea Corn Cakes: Crave-worthy Carbs

chickpea corn cakes top

If you enjoy crunchy, sweet summer corn and savory, nutty chickpea flavors and a fast, easy recipe, continue. However, I feel compelled to defend corn just in case with this comment:

Carby chickpea corn cakes cause carb-avoiders cringe-worthy concerns, or conversely, conscious cravings. Now breathe.

 

Corn often gets dissed as low-nutrient, high-starch food, but this oversimplifies corn’s dietary profile.

chickpea corn cakes

Instead corn’s a good source of fiber, micronutrients and minerals that connect to health benefits.

As for corn cravings, sweet corn is a comfort food that connects us to summer and chowing down on a cob is just plain fun. Corn’s also a good source of umami offering savory, meaty flavors.

 

The Chickpea Ingredient

The chickpea in this recipe is from chickpea flour (besan or gram flour), a nutrient-rich, gluten-free flour. In these egg-free corn cakes, the sticky bean flour is a primary binding agent.

Enjoy corn cakes as an appetizer with a dollop of lemon yogurt sauce, garlic and walnut herb sauce or a salsa or as a dinner with a side salad.

 

Chickpea Corn Cakes

Yield: Makes 18-20

Ingredients

4 ears of corn (about 2 pounds trimmed or about 3 cups of kernels)
1½ cup chickpea flour
⅓ cup sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons ground sumac (a citrus-like flavor, but is optional)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or ½ teaspoon for more hint of heat)
¾ to 1 cup water
1 large shallot, minced (about ⅓ cup)  (or ¼ of a small yellow onion)
4 tablespoons organic canola oil

Prep Steps  

  1. Shuck corn if needed, cut off kernels (hold stalk upright in the center of a tea towel and use a chef knife to strip off kernels). If using canned corn, drain and pat dry the kernels.
  2. In a bowl, stir together chickpea flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt, sumac and cayenne.
  3. Add water, shallot and corn. Mix with a spoon until blended. If not using immediately, refrigerate for 20 minutes or overnight to make forming patties easier.
  4. Form palm-sized patties about 1/2” thick with an even surface for nice browning. In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium-heat burner until it shimmers. Add patties leaving space between them, cook until each side is a dark brown color. Place on paper towels and repeat.
  5. Serve hot or at room temperature—see serving ideas below.

Serving Ideas & Nutrition Bonus:

Serve with dips sauces or topped with tangy Greek yogurt, Garlicky cheese-free pesto or a chunky-tomato ragout.

Nutrition bonus: for 4 corn cakes: Fiber 9 grams (woohoo) and 10 grams protein for only 236 calories

Like Chickpea flour? Also try my Chickpea shrimp fritters

Like the pan? I don’t represent Lodge cast iron, but do recommend them: more info here

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Quinoa Boulettes vs Ikea Swedish Meatballs

Quinoa Boulettes vs Ikea Swedish Meatballs

Quinoa Boulettes vs Ikea Swedish Meatballs

Mom would make Swedish meatballs for parties yet we weren’t Swedish, didn’t know anyone who was and Ikea was a two-day plane trip. Several decades later, braving my first trip to the hip-mega-everything store in search of kitchen doodads, I got overwhelmed and lost, but ended up following an aroma to the food court. I knew the source. I had rediscovered Swedish meatballs and memories of meatball platters, gravy and happy eaters.

Quinoa Boulettes Green Sauc

 

With this recipe, I’ve kept the appetizer angle of my childhood Swedish meatballs yet nixed the meat. However, calling them quinoa “meatballs” without using meat smells of “bait and switch” tactics. Instead, I embraced a European makeover by turning them into boulettes, a French culinary term, for small ball-shaped foods.

As a plant-based omnivore, I recognize meatballs have their own special textures and flavors. The chewy Swedish ones of my childhood oozed buttery-fat flavors but, I’ve served these multiple times to meat-centric eaters who enjoyed the crispy exterior and moist, flavorful interior. I just didn’t promise “hey they taste just like meat”.

Serve these quinoa boulettes as a complete meal with noodles and marinara or as a crunchy, healthy nibble to dip into an herby Greek yogurt, spicy marinara or garlicky vegan walnut pesto.

Quinoa Boulettes

Yield: Makes 35

Quinoa Ingredients  (makes about 2 ¾ cups cooked. Can be done up to two days in advance)

1 cup dry red quinoa (white or black works but red looks “meatier”)
2 cups liquid (water or low-salt vegetable stock)
½ teaspoon salt

Boulette Ingredients 

¾ cup bread crumbs (not panko)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sumac or other spice (see notes)
½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika or other spice (see notes)
¼ teaspoon of cayenne
3 garlic cloves, minced very fine (about 1½ teaspoon)
3 large eggs
¼ small yellow onion, minced very fine (about ⅓ cup)
1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil (for high smoke point)

Prepping Quinoa 

  1. To a pot over medium-high heat, add quinoa, water and salt.
  2. When boiling, stir quinoa, reduce heat to low and cover with a lid.
  3. Cook 18-20 minutes or until no water remains in the pan.
  4. Remove quinoa from heat, leave covered 5 minutes, then uncover, use a fork to fluff it.

Making Quinoa Boulettes:

  1. Turn oven to 475˚F. Place one rack at middle position and one at the top position. Lightly oil a baking sheet. To a mixing bowl, add bread crumbs, salt and spices and mix. Add cooled quinoa, garlic, eggs and onion and mix with a spoon.
  2. If you have time to let the quinoa cool, place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to let breadcrumbs soften and make shaping easier.
  3. With a 1 tablespoon measure, scoop slightly heaping amounts of quinoa, pressing into the measuring spoon with your palm to compact it, then push it into your palm to form a 1 ¼”-1 ½” size ball (smaller than a golf ball). Place on baking sheet.
  4. On the middle rack, cook 8-12 minutes or until exterior firms up and base browns. Move to top rack, cook 6-8 minutes or until crispy and dark brown. Broil for 2-3 minutes if not dark enough.
  5. Remove from oven and baking sheet to serve warm or store in refrigerator for later use.

Quinoa Boulettes Green Sauce F

Spice and Serving options:

  • Savory spice options: sumac, Hungarian or California paprika (sweet pepper flavor, not smoked), zatar spice or different powdered chilies instead of cayenne are possibilities.
  • These are popular with spiced Greek yogurt dips or the walnut herb sauce I make that is like a pesto without cheese.

 

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.

Let’s Connect

Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Golden Horseradish Hummus

Golden Horseradish Hummus

Golden Horseradish Hummus

Golden Horseradish Hummus

Hummus needs chickpeas. I’ve met modern interpretations at restaurants and was disappointed when I could find no trace or taste of it.

Chickpeas have a distinct flavor and, culturally, if chickpeas are subbed out for other beans, you have bean dip, not hummus. Hummus “means chickpea in Arabic” so if you want authenticity, stick with the chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans).

Tahini, sesame paste, is also a sign of authenticity in hummus. For “proof”, click to see a short video spoof on commercially made versus homemade hummus–Warning the tune is addictive (earworm alert):

Authentic hummus “It’s all about the paste”

However, getting off my high horse on hummus etiquette, there are fun non-traditional flavors that make traditional hummus playful. In this version, I’ve swapped out garlic for a horseradish hummus. Horseradish is a root vegetable in the mustard family. Its root heritage makes it a piquant spice plus it offers multiple health benefits.

This recipe also includes turmeric which blings out the color with a golden hue as well as adding interesting nutritional qualities. Lastly, this version has about half the oil as most hummus recipes without sacrificing flavor or texture.

Golden Horseradish Hummus

 Golden Horseradish Hummus 

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans (about 2 cups drained)
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons “prepared horseradish” (see notes below)
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt

Steps:

  1. Drain the chickpeas and rinse. Reserve a few whole garbanzo beans for garnish.
  2. Combine the chickpeas with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a creamy purée. You want a very smooth texture. If the texture is too thick, add a bit more water or olive oil. Tahini comes in varying degrees of textures.
  3. Taste and season further if needed.

To serve, spread in a platter or put in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, some chickpeas and serve with warmed flat breads or pita bread cut into quarters or with vegetable crudité.

  Golden Horseradish Hummus

Substitutions: Taste and Nutrition considerations:

  • Horseradish “heat”: as with some other root vegetables, horseradish spicy or piquant notes increase with the amount of processing such as chopping, grinding, grating. A very finely grated horseradish will be spicier than the chopped root. The “heat” is from a volatile oil compound called isothiocyanate.
  • Types of Horseradish: “Prepared” or jarred horseradish” varies significantly in ingredients used, quality and flavor profiles. Refrigerated (fresh horseradish) has a shorter shelf life than the non-refrigerated options.
  • Ingredients: Shelf-stable options can include a variety of additional ingredients with some brands include eggs, artificial flavoring, preservatives such as sodium benzoate and extra oils. Also check the ingredient list for sugar or corn syrups (preservative roles) which can add an odd flavor to hummus.
  • Options: These extra ingredients aren’t offering any health benefits and alter the natural flavor and texture of horseradish. For a better quality product, consider the refrigerated versions which are most likely simply grated horseradish, salt and vinegar. The vinegar helps stabilize the volatile oils (released from grating the root) so that the “heat” doesn’t continue to evolve.

More horseradish info at Food & Nutrition Magazine Savor Horseradish

  • Instead of a dip, use as a sandwich condiment spread
  • Use as in a layered veggie salad dish alternating the hummus with cucumbers, shredded carrots, peppers etc.
  • Use as a “mash” type of substitute to serve with other foods e.g. roasted vegetables or chicken.
  • Storage: Whether using prepared or homemade horseradish store in the refrigerator for 4-6 months or in the freezer for longer. I’ve kept fresh roots in the vegetable tray for up to 6 weeks.

Thank you, horseradish, for being neither a radish nor a horse.

What you are is a liar food.

Jimmy Fallon

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

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