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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Red lentil pâté

With the summer barbecue and entertaining season around the corner, I thought I'd share this recipe for a delicious savoury dip/spread.  The texture is quite similar to hummous; the taste is much more complex.  It can be served on a cracker, with pita-toasts, with nachos or spread on baguette slices.  It takes a little more effort than, say, hummous but I think, in this case, the extra effort is proportional to the extra flavour!  And isn't cooking for yourself all about putting in extra effort for a delicious result?

Red lentil pate

The first step is to cook up your lentils.  We always have red lentils on hand since they are the base of one of our favorite recipes.  You may also recognize them from such places as my blog header.


Bring the lentils and some water (1:4 ratio) to a boil.  (I used about 3/4 cup of dry lentils for this batch because it's what we had, but the recipe calls for 1 cup.  Both amounts are reasonable.)  Add a bay leaf.  Skim off any foam from the surface and discard.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about a half hour.  Drain in a fine-mesh strainer when finished.

There's lots to do while the lentils boil.  First, let's take care of the spices...

Mortar and pestle

...with this guy.  One of Mike's birthday gifts, it's brought our cooking to a whole new level.


[1/2 tsp caraway seeds]


[1/2 tsp cumin seeds]


[1 tsp coarse sea salt]


[grind what needs grinding]

Other spices for this recipe include:


[1 tsp coriander]


[1/8 tsp cayenne pepper]

Overall, I would advise you to be quite liberal with the spices, and make a scant measurement of the salt (or you could outright reduce it to a 1/2 tsp).

Once your spices are taken care of, head back to the stove.

Pine nuts

[1/3 to 1/2 cup of pine nuts]

The recipe next calls for the pine nuts to be sautéed along with a finely diced small onion for 5-7 minutes, in 3 tbsp olive oil.  What I think would work better, in terms of getting the pine nuts to brown and give off more flavour, would be to dry toast them in a dry frying pan for a few minutes without any onion or oil, just until they all start to brown.  For those of you who haven't tried it, dry toasting raw nuts is a surefire way to increase their flavour.

After sautéing your onion and pine nuts in olive oil for 5-7 minutes, add your salt and spices to the pan along with 3 pressed or chopped cloves of garlic and a generous tablespoon of tomato paste. (Please note:  it's the tomato paste that gives the pâté it's colour.  Boiled red lentils are not red at all. You'll see.  They're not even orange.  We were out of tomato paste but I knew it was a non-negotiable ingredient, so we cracked open a can of tomato sauce and reduced it for a few minutes in a saucepan.)  Cook for another 5 minutes.

Onion-pine nut saute

[sautéing, pre-tomato paste]

You next add a shot glass two tablespoons worth of lemon juice to deglaze your pan.  I think it's obvious that you should use freshly-squeezed lemon juice if at all possible, but I was making this with what I had on hand (and I came so close) so I caved and went for the bottled lemon juice.

Lemon juice

[lemon shot]

You are almost done!  Grab your handy immersion blender food-processor attachment (or other preferred purée tool) and blend the warm, drained lentils with the warm pine-nut-and-spice combo.  The pâté can be served warm or cold.  I've had it both ways and they're both delicious.  If it's feasible to serve it warm, go for it.  If you are bringing it along to a party or potluck, it might be more practical to chill it first.



And there you have it.  A dip with a lovely texture and complex flavour.  Trust me, it's worth the extra effort!

Red lentil pate

[ready to eat]


Margie said...Best Blogger Tips

Looks delicious !

Anonymous said...Best Blogger Tips

Mmm, can't wait to try this! More uses for my red lentils + a way to make veggies more palatable = awesome!

Michelle O'Bonham said...Best Blogger Tips

Question: are pine nuts as expensive in St. John's as in Thunder Bay?!? What do you think about walnuts instead?? I bought 1/2 cup of pine nuts for pesto yesterday and they cost $10.. yikes!!

Laura said...Best Blogger Tips

@Michelle O'Bonham

Ouch!! No, ours are maybe $3.50 for 2/3 cup (no name brand). Do you guys have a bulk barn or anything? You should stock up next time you travel! They're so good in so many recipes...

Michelle O'Bonham said...Best Blogger Tips

At the bulk barn in town they are 9.99/100g CRAZY!
I will for sure look when I'm out of town, great idea!

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