Now before you curl up your nose and skip past this one, give it a chance. First things first... this pâté is not like it's meat counterpart. I am not a fan of meat 'substitutes'... I don't like foods that pretend to be other foods, and this is no exception. Meat pâté, made with a mixture of meat (often liver or kidney), fat and seasonings, has it's own virtues. Veggie pâté has a similar end result in terms of texture and presentation, but has a surprisingly unique flavor thanks to an unusual ingredient.
Nutritional yeast is something most of us probably don't keep on hand for everyday cooking. In fact, most of us have probably never crossed paths with it at all; at least not knowingly. It is a deactivated form of regular yeast that has become popular among vegetarians and vegans for both it's nutritional value as well as it's flavor. Its flavor is similar to that of Parmesan cheese, and in flake form can be used as a topping for pasta dishes, salads and even popcorn. This is likely the only ingredient in the recipe that will prove difficult to find at the grocery store, however any natural or health food store worth its low-sodium-table-salt-alternative should carry it.
The overall dish is a savory, dense pâté that can be spread on breads or crackers, chilled and sliced and used as a sandwich filling, or crumbled on top of salads. I love to have it with a bit of pickle and crackers as a snack, or with a slice of fresh tomato and some mayo on bread for a light and easy summer dinner. The recipe below is a basic one, and you can alter the seasonings used as well as adding different veggies to suit your tastes. Next time I might try using a sweet potato or some beets and spinach to change things up a bit!
1 cup roasted, salter sunflower seeds
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 large potato, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
2-3 tsp total of seasoning of your choice: Italian seasoning, black pepper, herbes de Provence, etc.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, put sunflower seeds, potato, onion, carrot and garlic and chop until mixture starts to break down into smaller chunks. Add in flour, yeast and seasonings and combine, then add oil and lemon juice. Finally, with the motor running, drizzle in the water until the mixture is smooth and well combined. The pâté should have the consistency of a very thick batter; try to avoid getting it too runny/watery as this will lengthen the cooking time.
Pour into a greased pan and bake until the center is set. The pan you choose will affect both the baking time and the end result. A loaf pan will provide a more traditional pâté shape but will take longer to bake, approximately 90 minutes. A square pan will allow the pâté to spread out into a thinner layer and will speed up the baking time to about 60 minutes.
Once done, allow to cool completely before refrigerating. If storing in the baking dish directly (ie: a Pyrex loaf pan), wrap tightly with plastic wrap; otherwise transfer it to an air-tight dish, keep chilled and try to avoid eating it all in one sitting :)