I grew up eating pâté and loving it. Some pâté, on a piece of freshly baked bread with a glass of yogurt (yes, the liquid kind you drink like they do in Middle East!) was one of my go to breakfasts. And the pâté I ate was not a fancy French kind made with duck fat. At some point I learned that it was actually made of who know what, random bits and pieces of an animal all ground up. Whether you eat meat or not, I hope we can all agree that that’s pretty unappetizing when you think about it!
But: if you don’t think about it and just go with your taste buds, pâtés are really tasty. They are full of umami, savory flavors that we all crave, they are silky and smooth, they are nicely spreadable, and they are an excellent add-on to a nice piece of bread. So, how can we re-create the perfect savoriness with just a small number of ingredients, and make a healthy and satisfying pâté that will keep you coming back for more?
Well, we start with mushrooms, the well-known source of umami. You can use white button mushrooms here or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms as well. I do not recommend some of the mushrooms that have distinct flavors, like shiitakes; however, other mild mushrooms may work. Still, white button mushrooms are readily available, affordable and work!
Another important umami component is tomato paste. Here, you can use any tomato paste you have on hand and you can adjust the amount – anywhere between a tablespoon or two will do the trick.
To make the dip smooth and rich in protein, I recommend adding canned beans. White beans work best (cannellini, great Northern or navy), but any other variety will probably be OK. If you cook your own beans, I recommend that you keep them slightly undercooked for this application, or at least squeeze some of the excesses liquid out before blending to avoid ending with a pâté that’s more of a soup than a rich and dense spread.
The main flavoring agent here is Herbes de Provence, a mixture of dried herbs that usually includes thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram and lavender. I use Trader Joe’s version, and they carry it only as a seasonal item in the fall, but any other mix with the same name will do. Alternatively, you can add a pinch of thyme, rosemary, oregano, and other herbs (including basil) that you may have on hand.
Finally, what also adds a lot to this pâté is sautéing and caramelizing onions, garlic and mushrooms before blending everything together. This will help the flavor deepen and develop!
Looking for serving suggestions? You can use it as a spread or a dip, as a pizza “sauce” and topping (why not?), in your quesadillas (let’s be adventurous!), for your baked potatoes, or for any other dish where you feel the need to add rich, yet smooth flavors. Enjoy!
What you’ll need:
8 oz white button mushrooms (or cremini mushrooms if you like stronger mushroom flavor), sliced
1/2 large, white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1 15 oz (425 g) can white beans
Salt to taste
What you’ll do:
- Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Heat up than add the oil and onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic. Let garlic start to release its aroma – this usually takes a minute.
- Add the mushrooms and , increase the heat to high, mix well and sauté until mushrooms are browned. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, drain and rinse the can of beans. Shake access water off and place into a food processor or a large mixing bowl if you rather use a stick blender (this is an incredibly useful kitchen gadget and it’s what I used here).
- Pour the sautéed mushrooms over the beans and blend until smooth and combined. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Serve cold as a spread for sandwiches or as a dip for chips or crackers. This pâté is excellent addition to your menu and it offers a healthy and humane alternative.
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019