For someone with introverted tendencies, I love a good holiday party. Getting dressed up and drinking champagne under the glow of twinkle lights is hard to resist, and if the party in question has good food, I might even stay until the end! If you’re hosting this year, or attending a holiday soiree and looking to contribute something worthwhile, can I suggest vegan faux gras as the perfect hors d’oeuvre for hungry guests? It’s unexpected, high brow, and completely delicious (and is totally awesome as a leftover – my favorite application being spread on a banh mi sandwich).
You can also call this recipe by its alias, Lentil Walnut Porcini Pate. It’s all at once savory, addictive, deep in flavor and chock full of umami goodness. Make it to share this holiday season, or just make it to treat yo’ self when the shopping and wrapping and cleaning get to be too much this month and you need a glorious food distraction. As a bonus, it freezes beautifully, so store any extra for future gatherings.
1 cup dried brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
2 ½ cups water
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup dried porcini mushrooms (about ½ ounce)
2 cups very hot water
¾ cup walnuts, toasted
2 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp red or white miso
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp salt
Toasted baguette slices and raw crudité, for serving
In a medium pot, combine the lentils, bay leaf, and 2 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft and water has been almost completely absorbed. Turn off heat and let stand, partially covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and discard. Remove 1 cup of cooked lentils and place in a small bowl; reserve remaining lentils for another use.
In a medium bowl, combine dried porcini mushrooms with 2 cups hot water and let soak until rehydrated, about 30 minutes. Once softened, drain mushrooms and set aside in a small bowl.
While lentils are cooking and mushrooms are soaking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium low heat in a sauté pan. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
Remove onions and garlic from pan and transfer to a food processor, along with 1 cup reserved cooked lentils, toasted walnuts, porcini mushrooms, 1 Tbsp olive oil, tamari, miso, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Puree until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature with toasted baguette slices and crudité.