Thursday, August 9, 2012

Feta-Walnut Pate

Hummus lovers beware: this Feta-Walnut Pate spread could take the place of your beloved token veggie and pita dip!

I discovered this recipe on a lazy day around 3pm. Hungry for a snack that was substantive and filling, I was  craving something crunchy and savory, and my usual peanut butter and apple wasn't cutting it. I flipped through my favorite vegetarian recipe bible, Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook, and found this Feta-Walnut Pate.

The combination of walnuts, feta and parsley was just right-earthy and nutty with a dash of smoke from the paprika and cayenne. Raw food can sometimes taste a bit cardboard-y to me, but this pate boasted a full array of rich flavors, reminiscent of foie gras. This was not surprising as vegetarian foie gras (aka "faux gras") often incorporates nuts as a key ingredient.

My favorite part of this dip is the consistency. It's perfectly spreadable crunch rolls on easily to a pita chip or carrot slice, like a thick pesto. Don't be surprised if you end up eating it by the spoonful straight out of the bowl!

Use this Feta-Walnut Pate as the perfect epicurean appetizer to a dinner party, your guests will be excited to taste something new on the appetizer circuit. A quick mix of ingredients in a blender, and this spread is the ultimate gourmet start to a meal.
One suggestion: feel free to add some black beans to the ingredient mix. Add just enough as to not compromise the crunchy consistency. The beans add a nice subtle flavor that compliments well with the feta, plus some additional protein and fiber to the dish. Also, you'll notice the ingredient amounts are not always exact- this recipe is designed for you to taste as you go, and adjust accordingly.

Feta-Walnut Pate (from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook)
Yield: 6 servings

1 cup chopped walnuts
a handful of fresh parsley
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup water or milk
1 tsp. paprika
cayenne, to taste
a little olive oil
a little oregano (dried, or even better: a few fresh sprigs)
optional: 1 small clove of garlic
optional: 1/4 cup black beans

1. Place the walnuts and parsley in a blender or food processor, and blend with a series of quick spurts.
2. When the nuts are ground, add remaining ingredients except olive pil and oregano, and puree until smooth.
3. Tansfer to a small serving bowl, cover tightly, and chill. Just before serving, drizzle the top with a little olive oil, and garnish with a small sprigs of fresh (or a light sprinkling of dried) oregano. Serve on sesame crackers or toasted pita wedges, or as a dip for raw vegetables. For a more aesthetically pleasing presentation, cut the top off an orange or yellow pepper and scrape out the seeds. Pour pate inside and use pepper in place of a serving bowl.

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