For thrifty, veggie-loving cooks, signing up for a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share is the way to go. Sure, it can be a daunting investment up front, but it’s often the best deal you’ll find locally for fresh produce. And there’s always unanticipated surplus along the way.
Some weeks, there’s tons of pears; other weeks, it’s parsley. (Hello, freezer full of parsley pesto!) Last week, I found myself particularly lucky. There were cremini mushrooms that needed a home, and I was up for the task.
For one blissful week, I was in mushroom heaven, and even after mushroom quiche and tarragon mushroom stir-fry, I still had about a pound of mushrooms left. For the next dish, I wanted something festive and kind of classy. Spreadable, perhaps?
And so, inspired by a rich and flavorful vegan “faux gras” that I sampled at Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Smorgasburg, an open-air market for serious foodies, I tried my hand at lentil, walnut and mushroom pâté .
It was perfect for the dinner party I hosted and for noshing throughout the week. Some said it was as good as any chicken liver pâté or chopped liver they had ever had.
- Vegan chopped liver
1 cup French lentils, cooked (you’ll need 1⁄2 cup raw lentils)
4 cups cremini or button mushrooms (or a mix of your favorites), washed, stems and caps sliced
1⁄2 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon golden miso paste
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce, or more to taste
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
several twists of fresh black pepper
fresh parsley, for garnish
Cook lentils ahead of time: Cover 1⁄2 cup dry lentils with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or deep-dish frying pan. Add onions and cook until translucent and golden. Add garlic and mushrooms and another 2 tablespoons of oil (try coconut if you have). Sauté for 1 minute. In a small bowl, whisk with a fork the boiling water and miso paste. Add this mixture to the pan. Add herbs. Continue stir-frying 4 or 5 more minutes or until mushrooms are well-coated and tender. If you find that the mushrooms need more moisture, add a few dashes of soy sauce or more water. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Heat another frying pan over medium heat and add walnuts, stirring frequently. Cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant and golden. Remove immediately from the pan and let cool. Add lentils, toasted nuts and mushroom mixture (slightly cooled by now) to a food processor or blender. Add soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar and black pepper to taste. Blend until you’ve reached your desired consistency — I prefer it slightly chunky. You might prefer it smoother. You might find that your mixture needs more liquid, in which case add more soy sauce or vinegar. If you have a salt tooth like me, you’ll want to add a pinch or two of salt. Scoop into a serving bowl and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy with crudité or crackers.
Aly Miller was born and raised in Milwaukee and has been living in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the past three years. While studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she lived in a vegan Jewish co-op. The Nosher food blog, thenosher.com, offers new and classic Jewish recipes and food news.
— Aly Miller