Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Herby Mushroom Pâté with Za'atar

If I were to have a perfect food day it would be full of nibbles. We really love a good graze in our house. Those who know me well understand my past love of a good cheeseboard but my wellbeing and waistline definitely appreciate my newer vegan approach. And nibbling on things that are actually good for you is a win/win situation - hurrah!

I made this Mushroom Pâté on a grazing day not long ago and it was just so deliciously satisfying I knew it had to be a blog post. There is an abundance of herbs and the earthiness of the za'atar really compliments the mushrooms. If you haven't tried za-atar before I definitely recommend it. There are a couple of versions and I use the darker Palestinian variety. It's a lovely blend of roasted Sesame, Thyme and Sumac. The flavour has a real depth and you do not need much to make an impact. Since first buying last year it has become one of my store cupboard staples.

I used a combination of large flatcap and brown chestnut mushrooms although in the past I've used more exotic varieties to deepen the flavour. Try to avoid using a variety which tends to leak moisture when cooking (such as the flatcaps!) but buy your favourites and I'm sure you can't go far wrong!

This recipe would be a great starter to serve 4 with some dippers of your choice. You will need:

310g Mushrooms
100g Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative (I use Tofutti Soya Alternative, which is dairy and gluten free)
Small handful of Basil
1 sprig of Rosemary
Large handful of Flat leafed Parsley
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Za'atar
10 Black Peppercorns
2 tsp Salt Flakes
Juice of ½ a Lemon

First roughly slice all the mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Mushrooms generally respond well to a good charring so turn up the heat and get them sizzling! Move around the pan with a wooden spoon frequently as they cook. If they leak liquid then simply drain this half way through cooking then continue to brown. After 8 minutes remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Remove the leaves from the herbs, discarding the stalks, and finely chop. In a pestle and mortar crush the peppercorns coarsely.

Put the mushrooms in a food processer then add the cream cheese, lemon juice, chopped herbs, za'atar, salt and crushed pepper. Blend on only a few rotations to prevent over-processing the mixture. Leaving small chunks of mushroom throughout gives it a great texture.

Divide the mixture between your serving receptacles, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. If you have time to make these the day before you need them then they definitely benefit from leaving to chill overnight. They will last for a few days covered in the fridge.

Although this is not exactly what you would call a health food it's very tasty and just rich enough to be satisfied with small quantities. I love spreading on crispbreads and dunking raw carrots - poifect!

On another note, this week is National Vegetarian Week in the UK and a great time for you to seek out your local veggie cafes, restaurants, shops and markets. It's also a great time of the year for British produce so don't miss out.


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