Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lunch on the Go - Mushroom Pate with crackers and celery

Are we seeing that I am hugely into dips / spreads? If I can smear something salty on a cracker, I will generally be a fan of it. The challenge with this can often be getting enough protein at lunch to keep me full for the rest of the day. Then I discovered the beauty of cooking with wonderful protein and healthy fat rich nuts! I attended a yoga retreat in which the food was all raw and vegan, armed with granola bars in case I left every meal hungry. The granola bars never saw the light of day. Everything was so delicious and completely satisfying, mostly due to a generous portion of nuts usually blended up into a creamery version of itself. I became semi-obsessed with the way they can be used to add texture to completely transform vegan dishes into hearty comfort food. There are about a million ways to do this with mushrooms and call it a pate. If you don't believe me, try googling it and you will find everything from curried nuts, to buttery french style classics, and even some with a bunch of fresh herbs that look interesting. When I started looking for a recipe, however, I wanted something close to what I had at this yoga retreat. It was sumptuous and creamy with some chunkiness preserved for texture. I picked up hints of thyme and a vinegar of some sort that gave it just the right amount of tang. I noticed some recipes included, tofu, others beans, all mixed with nuts so I decided to go for all three. I know they say a variety of mushrooms is best, but plain old white button mushrooms are pretty flavorful after their flavor is brought out with a saute in coconut oil. Give it a try and I hope you enjoy!

Mushroom Cashew Pate
1/4 cup extra firm tofu
2 cups white button mushrooms
1 teaspoon thyme (fresh, use a full tablespoon if using dry)
1 cup of great northern beans cooked (I used canned)
1 cup cashews (don't soak them first, the harder they are the more texture you'll get)
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Give the onions, mushrooms, and garlic a rough chop. It's all going into the food processor anyway, but small enough to cook evenly in the pan. Heat the coconut oil and add the onions first. Let them sit about 4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms with some salt,pepper and thyme cooking until the mushrooms release their liquid (10-15 minutes). While that's cooking, add the tofu, beans, and cashews to your blender (I like to put the cashews on the bottom so they hit the blade first). Pour the mushroom mixture on top and blend until it starts to get creamy, but still retains some nut texture. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Dip, crackers, celery, carrots, and anything else you've got to enjoy a full lunch. You'll be surprised at how filling it is!

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