Pate is a wonderful and elegant hors d’oeuvre, always right alongside a glass of champagne at the best of soirees. Pate’ de Foie Gras, is the most famous of this genre and is made from the fattened livers of ducks or geese. It’s a cruel process of force feeding these birds in confined coops so they give up their unnaturally fatted livers. The pate is then made by cooking these livers, reducing them to a paste, and seasoning them delicately with wine and herbs. It is sometimes baked in a crust (en croute) or served in a terrine.
A vegetarian, a dieter, or an animal activist would not go near a goose liver pate. This little appetizer delicacy is very high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. A Weight Watcher would have to give up 13 points in order to enjoy three ounces. Animal activists wince at the cruelty these fowl suffer.
But you can enjoy a vegetarian version of this French classic that is actually healthy and cruelty free. There are many vegetable versions but this lentil mushroom pate packs a nutritional punch with its great flavor and texture. Lentils, those little dried discs, are a wealth of vitamins and cholesterol lowering fiber. High in magnesium, they improve the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body helping your heart to work more efficiently. Lentils also stabilize blood sugar and contain iron.
The next time you want to indulge in a French hors d’oeuvre, try this homemade mushroom lentil version. It’s easy to make, heart healthy, deceivingly delicious, and a goose will be forever grateful.
Cook the lentils in the stock
Saute the mushrooms, onion and thyme.
Add the sherry
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Add the walnuts to the food processor.
Add the mushroom mixture.
Add the lentils and process.
Pour mixture into loaf pan, smooth the top and cover with the over-hang.
Place another loaf pan on top, and weight it down with cans. Refrigerate overnight.
Unmold onto a platter, decorate with extra mushrooms and thyme, surround with crackers and serve.
Mushroom Lentil Pate’
1 cup French Green Lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
10 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup dry sherry
1 Tbsp thyme
½ cup walnuts
Crackers or French bread for serving
Bring lentils and stock to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 25-30 minutes until tender
Heat oil in pan and sauté the onion and mushrooms, salt and pepper. Add the sherry and simmer 2 minutes.
Add the thyme
Reserve 5 or 6 mushrooms to decorate the pate’.
Grind the walnuts in the food processor
Add the cooked lentils and the cooked mushrooms and onions to the walnuts and process.
Spray a 5”X10” loaf pan with Pam. Line it with plastic wrap allowing a few inches to hang over each long end.
Spoon lentil mixture into loaf pan and fold plastic over top.
Top with another loaf pan and fill with canned goods to weight it down.
To serve, unwrap the plastic and invert onto a platter. Decorate with the reserved mushrooms and some fresh thyme.
Surround with crackers or bread and serve.