When it comes to party appetizers, I go for glitz. Layers, garnish, a nice platter, fancy serving knife implement – I’m all about presentation. (Remember the caviar pie?) Especially on New Year’s Eve, party food should look elegant.
I tried the original version of this vegetable paté several months ago. It was lovely but plain, nice but not a “wow” in my book. This layered version adds color and flavor. The layers hold together because you mold them and then refrigerate the finished paté for several hours. The end result pleases the eye as well as the palate.
Many chefs and others I respect wax poetic over how much better home-cooked dry beans are than canned ones. (Joe Yonan, when I make your dishes I do try to cook dry beans, honest, I do.) But for this recipe, I used canned beans – with the other flavorings and the processing step that mashes the whole beans, I don’t think it made a difference.
If you hate cleaning up, then this recipe should appeal to you; the loaf pan doesn’t get dirty and you can use the food processer twice without cleaning it in between by processing the cannellini or alubias bean mixture before the kidney beans.
Layered Vegetable Paté
Servings – 10 or more for appetizer Cost – Approximately $10 ($1 or less per serving) Adapted from Armenian Bean and Walnut Paté, published in the August 2002 Food & Wine.
- 1 cup dark red kidney beans
- 1 cup cannellini or alubias (white, kidney-shaped) beans
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
- 1 medium red pepper roasted
- ½ cup pitted black olives, chopped into small pieces
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Equipment (Besides toaster oven and food processor. You can use a mortar and pestle if you don’t have a food processor.)
- Cutting board
- 2 bowls (to hold rinsed beans)
- Garlic press
- Tongs or other implement to turn pepper as it roasts
- Paper bag for roasting the pepper
- Wooden bowl and chopper if the nuts are not already chopped
- ½ and 1 cup measuring cups
- Tablespoon measuring spoon
- Medium-size pan (large enough to spread 1 cup chopped onion)
- 2 spatulas
- Loaf or other pan
- Plastic wrap
- Rinse the beans (separately), drain them in the colander, and set aside in a bowl.
- Chop the onion and press the garlic cloves.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan under medium-high heat until browned but not burned. Add the onion and garlic, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 6-8 minutes until the onion is transparent. The mixture will reduce by about half, to ½ cup. Take off the heat and set aside.
- Chop the herbs. Cut off the large stems first, then pull the tops clean of small stems and chop the tops. Set aside.
- Roast the red pepper. Chop it into small pieces aftrer roasting by opening and cleaning, cutting thin strips, bunching the strips together and cutting them horizontally into small pieces. Set aside.
- Chop the olives and set aside. Buy pitted olives unless you love tedious tasks like cutting around pits and choose the largest size you can find, as they are easiest to cut.
- Roast the chopped walnuts in a toaster oven pre-heated to 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes. (Of course, you could use the “regular” oven, but why heat it up for 1 cup of nuts?)
- Prepare the loaf pan by placing 1 strip of plastic wrap the long way and other in the opposite direction, both long enough to overlap by each edge by several inches.
- Put the cannellini beans, ½ cup of toasted walnuts, half (¼ cup) of the onions and garlic, a tablespoon each of the dill and parsley, salt and pepper (to taste) into the food processor and pulse a few times. Add 1 tablespoon of butter cut into 4 pieces and process until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is basically smooth but not whipped. If you’re concerned about the amount of salt and pepper, taste the mixture and add more if necessary. Food safety alert – Remember that if you have used a spoon or other implement to taste, you should not put it back into the food being prepared. Set it in the sink so you don’t forget. If you think I’m being obnoxiously obvious, then you’ve never seen a friend or family member taste pasta sauce with the spoon he/she is stirring with and putting it right back in the sauce – ugh!
- Using two spatulas, spread the mixture in the loaf pan and smooth it out to an even layer. (I put the darker layer in first, which meant that I had to clean out the food processor. As long as you scrape the mixture out of the food processor well with a spatula, if you process the white bean mixture first and use it as the bottom layer, you don’t have to clean the processor out between the bean mixtures.)
- Add the roaster pepper pieces on top of the cannelli bean mixture in an even layer and press lightly with the spatula.
- Put the chopped olives on top of the roasted pepper pieces, and again, press lightly.
- Process the kidney bean, the rest of the walnuts, onion/garlic mixture, dill, parsley, (with salt and pepper) and butter.
- Put that last layer (of kidney bean mixture) into the loaf pan and again press lightly. Wrap the overhanging plastic to cover the loaf and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- Uncover the paté by pulling back the overhanging plastic wrap, put a platter upside down on top Turn the loaf pan and platter over. Now the paté sits on the platter and you can remove the loaf pan and plastic wrap. Garnish with parsley, olives and roasted pepper bits, or anything else that strikes your fancy.
Serve with crackers or thin slices of baguette or other good bread.
Happy New Year.