Web Original: Right-Now Recipe: Meatless Pâté

My sister Jill turned 30 last week and threw herself a party in honor of the occasion. I immediately volunteered to make snacks, in spite of the special challenges involved with cooking for Jill and her friends — much of the guest list was vegetarian or vegan. I put my culinary thinking cap on and devised a meatless pâté made from mushrooms, caramelized onions, walnuts and silken tofu. The results were so delicious, I had to share the recipe.

Vegan Mushroom-Walnut Pâté

1 12-oz. carton silken tofu
¼ c. canola oil, divided
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 lbs. button mushrooms, chopped
5 springs fresh thyme, leaves only, minced
1 oz. dried wild mushrooms (like porcini or shiitake), soaked in very hot water for 10 minutes, and then chopped
1 tsp. salt, divided
½ c. walnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp. champagne or other white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Empty tofu into a food processor and process until the tofu is the texture of yogurt. Reserve 1/3 cup of the processed tofu for this recipe and store the rest in the refrigerator for another use. (FYI: Add salt and lemon juice at this stage to make tofu sour cream.)

Put two tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and add onions and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and very soft, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, put remaining oil into another large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add button mushrooms, ½ teaspoon of salt and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have released their juice and all the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add wild mushrooms to the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until mushrooms begin to brown, about 30 minutes. Set mushrooms aside until onions are finished cooking.

Combine cooked onions and mushrooms in a large mixing bowl and add half of that mixture to the food processor along with the 1/3 cup of pureed tofu. Process until smooth and creamy and empty into another mixing bowl. Add the remaining onion-mushroom mixture to the process and pulse about 10 times to form a chunky paste with visible but small bits of mushroom. Stir together both batches of the mushroom-onion mixture (the smooth batch and the chunkier, pulsed batch) and add the walnuts and vinegar. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and vinegar. Serve on crackers or baguette slices. Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer.