I am a sucker for French food and French wine. To this day, my favorite cookbook is still Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” A few years ago, I bought a vintage 20th edition copy released in 1971, the year I was born. The book has what looks to be wine stains across its pages, likely from the valiant efforts of another brave epicure hoping to recreate her world-famous bourguignon. I say valiant because if you’ve never seen Julia’s bourguignon recipe, let me just say it is a three-page lesson in patience. But alas, I digress.
The very first vegan cooking class that I taught was Vegan France. This recipe, along with my mushroom bourguignon, were two of my favorite recipes I shared with the class. A traditional molded foie gras is made with goose liver. It is salty and savory, and let me just say when I was a meat-eater, one of my favorite indulgences.
This recipe is an adaptation of Rebecca Leffler’s recipe from her vegan French cookbook. This “faux” gras is made with mushrooms, french green lentils, rosemary, thyme, walnuts, cognac, and a beet puree added in for color. Sure to satisfy even the most die-hard fin gourmets, I like to serve it with nice French Bordeaux and a traditional Pain de Campagne. Bon appétit!
- 24 medium-sized (200g, about 2 cups) button mushrooms
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter salted or unsalted
- 2 small onion peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 2 cups (800g) cooked green lentils
- 2 cups (280g) toasted walnuts or pecans
- 4 tablespoons liquid aminos or tamari
- 4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 4 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- 4 tablespoons fresh sage or flat leaf parsley
- 4 teaspoons Cognac or brandy
- 2-teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3–4 tablespoons beetroot puree (recipe below)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Wipe the mushrooms clean. Remove stem end and slice them.
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet or wide saucepan. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, sage, and Cognac/brandy and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and cooked through, another 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, brown sugar, and cayenne. Scrape in the cooked mushroom mixture and process until completely smooth. Fold in beet puree. Taste. Add salt, pepper, additional cognac, soy sauce, or lemon juice, if it needs balancing.
- Scrape the pâté into a small serving bowl, top with a thin layer of vegan butter if using, and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm. (If you’re making it on the fly, feel free to freeze it)
For Beetroot Puree:
- ½ pound roasted red beets
- ¼ cup Grapeseed oil
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoons water
- ¾ teaspoons fresh cilantro leaves
- ¾ teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Pinch of black pepper
Place beets, Grapeseed oil, shallots, 1 tablespoons water, cilantro, vinegar, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender, and process until blended, about 5 seconds. Add beets, and process until smooth, about 40 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Stir in black pepper.