walnut pâté

Likely I would share recipes more often if it weren’t for the fact that my props often get eaten before I had a chance to photograph them, and my home recipes are often in “a little of this and a little of that” quantities. This recipe for walnut pâté is no exception. I admit it, I break the food photography rules and nibble as I work.

But let’s get to the benefits of this dish beyond the fact that I love the taste of walnuts. This edible seed has a sweet yet slightly savory earthiness to it, and after it’s roasted it’s hard not to keep reaching for some to pop in your mouth. Walnuts are a healthy and great addition to your diet if you need an excuse to enjoy them. Interestingly, when finely ground and blended with the simplest of seasonings and creamy textures, you won’t necessarily taste the nut. But I can assure you this pâté, made with walnuts as a key ingredient, is a crowd-pleaser. It’s also a conversation starter; walnut pâté sounds intriguing. Easy to prepare, it can be made in either a vegetarian or vegan variation which makes it suitable for most everyone.

I first tasted this appetizer in Israel years ago and it was coined as a “vegetarian chopped liver”. If you’ve had chopped liver before and enjoy it, you’ll agree the name doesn’t scream deliciousness. Chopped liver is made with chicken liver, sautéed onions in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or onions sautéed in canola oil, hard-boiled eggs and seasoned with black pepper and salt. The dish (and schmaltz) is popular in Jewish cuisine originating in Eastern Europe. Offal is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, but more importantly, it’s key to many cultures who look for ways to not waste edible animal parts. Find a Jewish delicatessen near you, or easy to whip up at home, try traditional chopped liver on a good piece of rye bread, or smothered on potato latkes (potato pancakes) for something decadent and it will be a holiday for your taste buds.


orly’s walnut pâté recipes

Vegetarian Walnut Pâté
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp. butter or canola oil
2 generous cups of roasted walnuts
3 hard-boiled eggs
mayonnaise to taste
kosher salt to taste
black pepper; pure or fine ground

Sautée the onion in butter (or the canola oil) until caramelized, remove from heat. In a food processor purée the walnuts on pulse mode (you want the walnuts chopped until they’re very fine). Add the caramelized onion, two hard-boiled eggs and season with salt and pepper (and don’t be shy about it). Blend the mixture together and taste. If dry, for creaminess, add a taste of mayonnaise (less or more based on taste preference). The third hard-boiled egg can be added at this stage and either blended in completely or left a little chunky. Some versions of chopped liver have bits of chunky egg visible, it’s a taste preference or an opportunity to mimic what grandma used to make. Season with more salt or pepper as needed. For this version use regular mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman’s or Best Foods) not a vegan or low-fat variety. From my experience, a vegan mayonnaise will loose it’s consistency in the blender. If you like chopped liver, this vegetarian version will surprise you with it’s traditional flavor.


Vegan Walnut Pâté

1 large onion, chopped
canola oil
2 generous cups of roasted walnuts
1/3 package medium to firm tofu
kosher salt to taste
black pepper; pure or fine ground

Cut a chunk of the tofu and drain the water (silken tofu will be found in the refrigerator section of your market). Sautée the onion in canola oil until caramelized. Mix in the tofu on low heat to absorb the flavor of the onion, lightly season with salt and pepper. In a food processor purée the walnuts on pulse mode (you want the walnuts chopped until they’re fine, same as above). Add the caramelized onion and tofu mixture. Blend the mixture together. Season with more salt or pepper as needed. This version does not require mayonnaise, but for flavor a tad of vegan mayonnaise or “veganaise” can be added, mix gently. The vegan pâté will be a bit lighter in appearance than it’s vegetarian counterpart. Adjust both recipes by adding more seasoning based on your preference.

I serve my signature dish on many holidays and it’s always on the table for Passover. Spreading it on matzoh (also spelled matza, matzo or matzah) is a perfect and my preferred way of sharing it regardless of the time of year. The pâté also tops nicely on crisp green Granny Smith apples. The tart tang of the apples compliments the creamy-savory-sweetness of the spread. It makes a wonderful vegetarian or vegan appetizer if hosting an evening of wine for example and you want a delightful appetizer to present to guests. Easy to make and a delicious bite to enjoy, hope you enjoy a bite of walnut pâté!

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5 Responses to walnut pâté

  1. Sara{OneTribeGourmet} March 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I love your idea of this vegetarian & vegan walnut Pâté! Thanks for sharing!

    • Orly March 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

      Thanks Sara! Both the vegetarian and vegan version are delicious.

  2. Beth (OMG! Yummy) March 28, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    Just in time for Passover. But why wait for Passover – great snack or appetizer anytime!

    • Orly March 28, 2012 at 6:05 am #

      Thanks dear Beth! And it goes great with wine.

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