Tired of the same old holiday cheese ball? Kim O'Donnel, author of 'The Meat Lovers Meatless Celebrations' cookbook, freshens up the traditional holiday snack with a creative dish grown in Washington: lentil pate.
Excerpted from “The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations” by Kim O’Donnel by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2012.
1 cup dried brown or green lentils
3 cups water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1⁄2 to 3⁄4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup peeled and thinly sliced shallot (about 4 bulbs)
1⁄4 cup bourbon or cognac (booze-free option: apple cider)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (from at least 2 sprigs)
1⁄2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
tools: Food processor or stand blender
Place the lentils, water, and garlic in a medium-size saucepan. The water should be about 2 inches above the lentils. Add more as needed. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until tender to the bite, 30 to 35 minutes. Season with 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt.
While the lentils cook, melt the butter in a 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, stir to coat with the butter, and cook until thick, jamlike, and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes. Lower the heat if the shallot begins to char. Increase the heat and add the booze (or apple cider), allowing it to evaporate, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the rosemary, nutmeg, and the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt, then turn off the heat.
Drain the lentils and transfer to a baking sheet to cool in a single layer for 10 minutes. Make sure you bring along the cooked garlic.
Transfer the shallot mixture to the bowl of a food processor or stand blender and blend, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the lentils and garlic, and blend until you have a creamy mixture with as few lumps as possible.
Season with the black pepper to taste (and more salt if needed), and scoop into a 4-inch ramekin or four-edged dish.
(The spread looks more pâté like in a shaped dish than freestyle in a cereal bowl.) Place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes; the pâté deepens in flavor when slightly chilled.
Serve with toast points or baguette slices, or with carrot, celery, or jicama sticks, or endive leaves.
Makes a little over 2 cups pâté.