* Or, “Nutroast, Nutroast, Wherefore Art Thou, Nutroast?”
They say that everyone remembers their first time, and I am no exception. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a late bloomer, so the event is indelibly etched in my memory.
N.R was rich, deeply tan, warm and beckoning. One glance, and I couldn’t resist–I leapt right in, with gusto. Afterward, I asked myself, “Where have you been all my life?” I couldn’t get enough. I made sure that we encountered each other again–and again–every day for a week. In short, I was in love.
In love. With Nut Roast.
(What? You mean you weren’t thinking, ”N.R. = Nut Roast“?)
I hadn’t even heard of nut roast before I began this blog. Then, when I tasted my first nut roast back in 2008 (told you I was a late bloomer), I was immediately besotted, consuming it for pretty much every special occasion and holiday meal after that. And while I did manage a really yummy variation for my first ebook, Anti-Candida Feast, it seems I’ve since been unable to reproduce my initial good fortune to come up with a new take on the old inamorato.
Last December, I decided I’d create a new nutroast that would become our contemporary favorite here in the DDD household. Seeking inspiration, I turned to the Queen of Nutroast (she even held a blog event in its honor), Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe.
Johanna has an entire category devoted to Nutroasts on her blog’s recipe index–I was light-headed at the thought of going through them all! I considered trying her BBB (Broccoli, Brazil Nut and Brown Rice) Nutroast, the Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Nutroast, or even the Tofu and Spinach Nutroast, but after reading her Pumpkin Nutroast recipe, I decided to try my hand at another loaf with a different orange veggie–that is, a sweet potato base (because, as you may have guessed, I tend to put sweet potatoes in just about everything).
I always enjoy using buckwheat in savory dishes for its earthy, slightly nutty flavor that tends to confer a “meaty” vibe to a dish, so I included some in this. I tossed in several other favorite savory ingredients, smoothed it in the pan, set it in the preheated oven, and waited.
When it was done, it looked perfect: lightly browned crust on top, a heady aroma of fragrant herbs wafting toward me. I let it cool slightly, then tasted a nibble.
And it was delicious!
Just one small problem: the texture, unfortunately. . . was all wrong for nutroast. Too soft, too moist, too smooth. And yet. . . I couldn’t stop “tasting” it, couldn’t stop “evening out” the slice. Somehow, the flavor was incredibly familiar. . . something I’d eaten–and loved– in my younger days.
Eventually, it came to me: the taste and consistency were almost identical to that of a veggie pâté I used to buy when visiting relatives in Montreal. My old love–resurfaced! Although the original wasn’t gluten free, I knew that the flavor was remarkably similar to that of my flubbed nutroast.
Well, you know what they say about the ones you love: it’s best not to try to change them. So I decided to set aside my quest for the Consummate Nutroast (for now) and revel in the fetching qualities of my newfound Romeo, Country-Style Pâté.
I re-baked the raw mixture in a square pan and cut it into quarters, just like the Quebec-based version, so it could feel comfortable in its own crust. I spread it on crackers, where it was its true self the most; cut it into strips and stuffed it into collard leaves when it was feeling like a change of pace; and used it as a sandwich base for the HH when it asked to meet my friends.
Make no mistake: I will always have a soft spot in my heart for my first love, Nut Roast, and that will never change. But I’m older now, and my heart (and stomach) have room for different types of love. Ah, Country-Style Pâté, you bring a more mature love to my life, one that’s deeply seasoned and more nuanced, and I happily accept the uniqueness that is you.
In fact, I loved this pâté so much, I want to spread the love around. So here’s my serendipitous recipe–hope you end up feeling the love, too.
Meetup News! Maggie of She Let Them Eat Cake and I are organizing a blogger lunch meetup in downtown Toronto! Please join us for a vegan, gluten-free lunch on Saturday, March 5th at 1:00 PM. We’re leaning toward Fressen downtown. Would love to see you there! To RSVP, please email me (at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com) or Maggie.
Pâté Campagne (Country Pâté): ACD Stage 1 and beyond
Diet, Dessert and Dogs (http://rickiheller.com)
A perfect combination of savory, nutty, rustic flavors with just a hint sweetness from the sweet potatoes. This makes a perfect snack or meal on the go—spread it on bread or crackers, or stuff a slice in a wrap with favorite veggies.
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry buckwheat groats (kasha)
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) vegetable broth or stock
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-1/4 (300 ml) cups peeled and cubed roasted sweet potato
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and grated (you can leave the skin on)
1 tsp (5 ml) dried rosemary
1 tsp (5 ml) dried parsley
1 tsp (5 ml) dried tarragon
3/4 cup (180 ml) lightly toasted sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
3 Tbsp (45 ml) soy or chickpea flour
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Bring the broth to a boil in a small pot. Add the buckwheat, lower heat to simmer, and cover. Simmer for 15-18 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed; removed from heat and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frypan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion is golden and the garlic has begun to brown. Add the sweet potato and zucchini along with the rosemary, parsley, tarragon and nutmeg and continue to cook until the zucchini releases most of its liquid. Turn off heat.
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the sunflower seeds, flax seeds and soy flour until it reaches the consistency of a fine meal. Add the onion-vegetable mixture and process until almost smooth. Add the cooked buckwheat to the processor; process until desired consistency is reached (I like it perfectly smooth, more like a conventional pate; you can leave it a bit grainy if you prefer). Season with salt and pepper.
Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 70 minutes, until the outside is crisp and browned. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen.
[This recipe was also posted last month on Go Dairy Free, and reprinted today in case you missed it there. It has also been submitted to Amy's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Diane's Real Food Weekly this week.]
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