When it comes to pairing wine with food, pâté is a popular choice for red, white and even sparkling or rosé wines. Traditionally, many pâtés are made using rich game meats with plenty of fat included to add flavour and texture; this combination has the power to complement high-tannin, full bodied red wines, aged savoury wines that have lost fruit over time, and complex sweet wines such as Sauternes.
Popular staples of a good vegan pâté tends to be legumes, mushrooms for umami flavour and toasted nuts. Using these staples as a foundation to build upon, you’re free to add other ingredients, experiment with seasoning, and play around with different textures. The key is to create a vegan alternative to pâté that doesn’t seek to just provide a perfect meat imitation, but creates a delicious plant-based dish by itself.
For your next wine tasting or dinner party, here’s a couple of recipes for homemade vegan pâté to pair with wines.
Lentil, Mushroom and Walnut Pâté Recipe
Simple, but effective.
Best to start with the basics- this delicious vegan pâté recipe is as easy as it comes! Green lentils, meaty mushrooms and toasted walnuts provides good texture, nutrition, and a strong platform to build upon with herbs and spices. Inspired by It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken’s recipe, adding lentils make it a very good recipe for coarse pâté. The savoury flavours of soy sauce and liquid smoke make this as rich as classic pâté.
Ingredients: (approx. 12 servings)
- 50g walnuts
- 100g green or brown lentils
- 4 shallots (150g)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2tbsp brandy
- 100g chestnut mushrooms
- Rosemary – fresh and dried
- Liquid Smoke
- Soy sauce
- Oil for frying
Directions: Cook the lentils according to the packet and then set aside. Then, toast the walnuts (be careful not to let them burn) before removing from heat and adding shallots and garlic with heat in a tsp of herbed oil. Finely chopped shallots will cook faster than regular white onion, so they will only need around 2 minutes. After they turn translucent, add the finely chopped chestnut mushrooms and allow to cook until softened (around 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper, a splash of dark soy sauce and liquid smoke if you have it – if not, substitute with a bit more soy sauce and some smoked paprika. Add herbs of choice. Savoury herbs such as rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme will help elevate this vegan dish to that of a traditional French pâté.
Blend all ingredients together until smooth and divide into ramekins to chill. I like to take this further by folding herb-infused oil into vegan butter, and spreading this over the top. Once it solidifies, it creates the layer iconic to meat-based pâté.
You can also use beetroot juice or puree to make this more of a classic pâté colour, but be warned – it’s a challenge to get it out of wooden chopping boards!
Approx 12 servings [Calories: 160kcal / 100g]
Black Chickpea and Roasted Chestnut Pâté
Sweet and nutty
For those who don’t like mushrooms, here’s a delicious mushroom-free vegan recipe for pâté, adapted from the Merchant Gourmet recipe for “Chestnut Pâté de Foie Gras”. Kala Chana (black chickpeas) are earthier than regular chickpeas, and can be bought dried or canned just as cheaply. For this recipe I used canned Kala Chana, which made it even easier to achieve a smooth pâté. As a lazy vegan, I picked up roasted chestnuts by Merchant Gourmet to use in this recipe- and they worked amazingly well! They also stock pureed chestnuts, which would help even more when aiming for a smooth pâté texture. The result is a sweet, nutty spread that is delicious on sourdough or crackers and stores well when refrigerated.
Ingredients: (approx. 10 servings)
- 75g kala chana
- 200g chestnuts (or 180g pack of pre-roasted chestnuts)
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 4 shallots
- 225ml vegetable stock
- Salt and Pepper
Directions: if you are using dried chickpeas soak them for 8 hours (or as advised on the packet) and cook according to instructions. You want them softer than usual, so cook for an extra 2 minutes or so. Sauté the shallots until soft but not brown, then remove the pan from the heat and add the brandy. Stir until the alcohol has evaporated, then return to heat along with the kala chana – I used canned black chickpeas for this recipe, so they didn’t need to cook as long – I only gave them about 2 minutes before the next step. Add chestnuts and vegetable stock, and simmer until the liquid reduces by half.
Blend, divide into ramekins and chill. Again, you can blend herb-infused oil with vegan butter to top the dish.
Yields: approx 10 servings [Calories: 140kcal/100g]
Wines To Pair With Vegan Pâté
Whilst a traditional pairing for foie gras is Sauternes (dessert wine) I think the vegan alternative to pâté is best suited to light reds because it’s earthy and fragrant, rather than classically rich and buttery. Wines that go well with earthy flavours tend to be young Beaujolais (especially if there’s sweetness added, such as cranberries) older Pinot Noir and French Malbec from Cahors. I tried both of these meat-free spreads with Tesco Finest Cahors Malbec (read the review)– and, whilst I wasn’t completely sold on this style of Malbec, it did bring out some really lovely flavours in the food.
I also think Merlot could work quite well with the chestnut pâté ( you can read more about pairing with nuts here.) Likewise, medium-boded rich white wines could pay quite well, given vegan pâté alternatives tend to be lighter than the traditional version.
Last year I paired a ‘faux gras’ recipe with a Beaujolais from Tesco (read more) which was quite a similar recipe to the nut and lentil pâté recipe above, with the addition of beetroot to add colour. A very good make-ahead vegan recipe for parties! You can also add fruits (fresh or jams) to a spread like this, to really complement the lighter fruitier styles of Beaujolais.
Do you prefer to make or buy meat-free pâté?