I will admit, I held out on you last week.
There is a part two to the great vegetarian banh mi story and its name is vegan pate. We’ll skip past the part where I talk about despite this being made out of lentils it totally tastes like pate because, well, the truth is that I’ve never had pate. Never had the desire to eat meat ground into a paste, probably never will. So yes, we’re skipping that part.
But it’s just kind of fun to call this pate because authentic Vietnamese banh mi call for pate and so now we can eat authentic-ish vegan banh mi!
A lot of vegan pate recipes call for some kind of nut toasted + ground to add richness and body where meat would otherwise fill the void. Well, I made this at 9 p.m. one night after several other recipes and I was sweaty and not about to grind up my own walnut butter AND sauté aromatics AND boil lentils separately AND puree everything altogether. So I just added a smidgen of almond butter to my trusty Blendtec along with a hodge-podge of lentils and herbs and hoped for the best.
To be honest, a lot of the recipes I wing don’t turn out. But this one was like jump-up-and-down, have-to-share good. Because this is SO easy to throw together. Yes, the ingredients read like a list of the most unlikely combinations—miso and tarragon? Champagne wine vinegar and almond butter? BUT they do in fact combine* to make the most complexly flavored lentil mush I’ve ever eaten (oh yum). The flavors are just…
…well, you will never want to stop eating lentils. Especially slathered on a toasted pretzel roll topped with pickled vegetables, chewy tofu, crunchy peppers and fresh herbs. We are talking vegetarian sandwich NIRVANA, people.
*But really, if you try this, make sure you have all the ingredients because you do NOT want to miss out on this flavor bomb. (I got the tarragon, bay leaf and thyme from the bulk spice section of my grocery store for about .10 cents).
This lentil-based spread features an addictive balance of flavors--sweetness from the tarragon, unami from the miso paste and acid from the vinegar. Many vegetarian pates call for ground nuts to add richness and body, but I skipped straight to adding almond butter for easy blending. Let it sit overnight for a more developed flavor. I used it as a sandwich spread, but I could also see this as a very thick dip.
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ small onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ cup green lentils, rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- ½ tablespoon champagne wine vinegar (alternatively: white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
- dash of pepper
Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 6 minutes, or until soft. Add the lentils, bay leaf, water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and let cook for 20-25 minutes.
Once lentils are soft (i.e. you can smush them with a spoon), remove pot from heat. Remove the bay leaf and add lentil mixture to a blender (let cool if necessary—I do not recommend blending very hot substances under any circumstances).
Add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Mixture should be very thick, but blendable. Add a tablespoon or two of water or olive oil if you’re having trouble blending it.
For tips on assembling a full vegetarian banh mi, check out this post.