Faux Gras, or ways with walnuts

Mushrooms, lentils and walnuts make a great pate

YOU can hardly hear yourself think these days for the noise of trendy young beardies jumping on the vegan bandwagon and boasting about their “plant-based” lifestyles. Since when did that perfectly adequate word ‘vegetarian’ drop out of fashion?

Some of we carnivores have been cooking vegetarian and vegan dishes for years only we didn’t make a noise about it or even realise meat was absent.

So hang on, I’m jumping on that wagon, if only temporarily. Here’s an old post on how to make walnut, lentil and mushroom pate. And as the trendies tuck into their highly processed fake meats and sausages, this, too, is fake.

It’s supposed to be the veggie answer to foie grass!

Writing about the Foie Gras Liberation Front the other day reminded me of a pate I made recently. I had been lured by a website’s promise that it was a vegetarian foie gras. You could call it faux gras! That proved to be rather a lot of hyperbole and wishful thinking but it did make for a very good pate.

It’s made from lentils, mushrooms and walnuts, of which I get a plentiful supply from my brother’s tree in Norfolk, so I gave it another go. I am trying to come up with every possible recipe using them.

The recipe is from David Lebovitch, a protégé of Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in California and can be found at http://www.davidlebovitch.com while he credits it to Rebecca Leffler in her book Tres Green, Tres Green, Tres Chic. I don’t know whether he has adapted it although I have with his version.

I have cut down on the amount of walnuts simply because I got fed up with shelling and toasting them and I have added a few little extras like paprika and balsamic vinegar for ultra richness. I also doubled the amount of mushrooms. Once you have cooked your lentils it can be made in 30 minutes. Lebovitch recommends green lentils not Puy but I used the latter because I had a very much out of date packet! Just don’t use red lentils which go quickly to mush.

Lebovitch promises a smooth texture but my cheap food processor couldn’t give me that and the slightly grainy finish is appealing.

200g mushrooms, sliced
Small onion or shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
170g uncooked green, brown or Puy lentils
70g shelled walnuts, toasted
2tbsp butter
2tbsp olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon thick soy sauce (kekap manis)
Plenty of herbs: I used sage, thyme, rosemary, bay and celery leaves
2 teaspoons brandy (optional but advisable)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of cayenne
Big pinch of paprika, sweet or smoked

1 tsp ground mace

Cook your lentils without salt and drain. Toast the walnuts. Gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil and butter and after five minutes add the sliced mushrooms. I just trim the stalks and use them as well: no point in waste. Season. Cover the pan because the cooking juices add moisture when processing. I used half the herbs while frying.

Blitz the nuts first to small grains and then add the lentils, blitz some more, then the mushrooms, rest of the herbs and the rest of the ingredients.

Taste and adjust to your liking: perhaps adding more herbs, salt or lemon juice or, if you’re feeling flush, more brandy. Scrape out into pots. It’s ready to eat immediately but will1. keep, covered, in the fridge for a week. It also freezes.

I made this for hardly much more than a quid as I had all the other ingredients. If walnuts are not your thing you could try pecan or cashews although I haven’t.

This recipe contains plenty of fibre so you’ll want to use it regularly!

The main ingredients

3 thoughts on “Faux Gras, or ways with walnuts

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