When I told my friends that I was starting a blog to share my recipes, the most common response I received was “Can you put recipes on there for SANDWICHES?!?” Not exactly what I was expecting.
At first, I was worried about those friends that needed explicit directions on how to make a sandwich. But the more I thought about it, the Sandwich, particularly the Vegetarian Sandwich, is often sadly lacking in style and substance, filled with a few soggy pieces of lettuce and maybe a couple slices of sad, clammy, deli cheese.
But those sad, droopy sandwiches bow down in the presence of this vegan Mushroom Walnut Pate. It has a meaty, umami taste that’s incredibly rich, considering it has no animal products in it and is mostly lentils and vegetables. Lentils and walnuts are packed with protein and fiber, so this sandwich will keep you full and energized all afternoon. It takes about an hour to make, but you’ll have plenty for sandwiches, snacks, and creative leftovers all week. But it probably won’t last that long.
So friends, here are your sandwich instructions: Make the pate from the recipe below and slather it on toasted whole wheat country bread. Add green apple slices and fresh arugula for a perfectly balanced, hearty vegetarian sandwich.
Another serving option for this pate is to unmold it and put it on a platter with crackers, crostini or crudite for an hors d’oeuvre. It’s a real crowd-pleaser since it’s delicious, decadent and figure-friendly. If you are serving it to a crowd, I would definitely spring for the dry sherry. It gives the pate an elegant, winey acidity that’s really irreplaceable. But I’ve also used balsamic vinegar for a similar sweet-tart kick and that’s also quite delicious.
Put any leftover pate to good use by taking a couple tablespoons and stirring them into freshly cooked pasta for a quick mushroom ragu (just add a little pasta water to thin) or add a spoonful to vegetable broth and vegetables to give a mushroomy undertone to a vegetable soup.
I can’t stress enough how phenomenal and addictive this pate is. I gave my sister a spoonful of it last night, and her response? “OH YES.”
Mushroom Walnut Pate
makes about 3 cups
1 cup Lentils de Puy (French green lentils)
3 cups vegetable stock, preferably unsalted
1 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 8-10 ounce package of cremini mushrooms (about 3 cups), thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry (or 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar)
2 teaspoons of salt
1. Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear. Add them to a large pot with the vegetable stock and the Herbes de Provence and bay leaf. The stock should be about 2 inches above the lentils; add water if it’s not at that level. Bring up to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are fully cooked, about 45 minutes, adding water as necessary. The lentils will retain their shape, but will no longer be hard or gritty on the inside.
2. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. On a sheet tray, spread out the walnuts and toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. They will be slightly golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
3. Heat up a large saute pan and add the oil. Saute the onion over medium-high heat with a pinch of salt until it is soft and golden brown. Then add the minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the sliced mushrooms with another pinch of salt and saute until they are brown and much of the liquid has evaporated. The whole mixture should be soft and look caramelized. Then add the dry sherry, using it to scrape off any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until most of the sherry has evaporated. Then remove from heat.
4. In the food processor, pulse the walnuts until finely ground. Then add the cooked lentils (drained from their water and with the bay leaf removed), the mushroom mixture and the 2 teaspoons of salt. Puree until smooth. Taste the mixture and add salt until it tastes perfect. Then add two extra pinches of salt. It will taste too salty warm, but once it cools, it will taste perfect again. The palate perceives salt differently in hot and cold food.
5. Spoon mixture into a loaf pan, mold or tupperware and cover with plastic wrap. Then place a similarly-sized container on top and weigh it down to press the pate. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Invert on a plate to serve as an hors d’oeuvre or spread on bread for your sandwich.