Lentil, Mushroom, and Walnut Pate

Jill Nussinow — From The Veggie Queen by Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, Vegetarian Connection Press: Santa Rosa, 2005. Reprinted with permission from the author. To learn more about Jill and her work visit her website.

Be liberal with your use of parsley, as this dish does not have brilliant colors despite its lively taste.

1 cup dried green lentils
1/2 ounce dried wild mushrooms
2 medium leeks, white part only, chopped
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts plus 1/4 toasted halves for topping
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dried thyme
4 tablespoons quick-cooking or baby oats or oat flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Pick over the lentils and put them in a pot. Cover with water and let them cook until they are soft, 35 to 45 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid, and set aside.

Pour boiling water over the dried wild mushrooms and let them soak for 15 to 30 minutes.

Heat the medium skillet. Add the leeks and dry sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Squeeze the water out of the wild mushrooms (saving the water) and add the mushrooms to the pan along with the crimini mushrooms, minced garlic, and 1/2 cup walnuts. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 10 to 13 minutes. Add the thyme and oats and cook for 4 to 5 minutes longer.

Puree mushroom mixture in the food processor with the lentils and [balsamic] vinegar, adding 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon paprika. If the mixture seems too thick, add some lentil cooking liquid or mushroom soaking liquid. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

Line a 3 to 4 cup terrine or narrow 10 X 4-inch bread pan with parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle the parsley and 1/4 cup walnuts over the paper and add the lentil-mushroom mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until cooled down.

When ready to serve, unmold the pate and then invert. Ease the pan off the pate, then peel off the paper. Surround the pate with sprigs of parsley and cherry tomatoes, if in season.

Serve at room temperature with crackers or bread or Crostini (see page 90 [in The Veggie Queen]).