I often joke that I was a flower child baby, because by the time I came into the world, my mom had already embraced many aspects of the hippy lifestyle of late 1970s Montreal. One of the areas where this was most evident was in her approach to food and cooking. A cherished cookbook in our household, published the year after I was born, is Le Bonheur du végétarisme (The joy of vegetarianism) by Québec author Danièle Starenkyj. Danièle’s book turned végépâté into a Québec classic. If you go to just about any grocery store in Québec today, you will find an assortment of different brands of végépâté, so tasty they are enjoyed by meat eaters as much as by vegetarians. But veggie pâté is also incredibly easy to make at home.
Veggie pâté is handy to have around at this time of year. After Christmas, theres often still a fair amount of entertaining and socializing going on but people sometimes feel weighed down by all the rich foods theyve feasted on. Veggie pâté is a nice counterpoint to what I affectionately refer to as the post-Christmas food coma.
You can serve it up with crackers and pickles as a nice alternative for those who want to take a little break from meat and pies and cookies. Also, the vegetarians in the group will love you for it. And if youre looking for something new and unique to bring to someones house as a gift, this is guaranteed to get a few surprised ooh and ahhs, especially if you package it with some homemade crackers or bread.
Over the years, Ive brought my own tweaks to the recipe. I like to add carrots to my version and use Bragg’s liquid soy seasoning to add a bit of umami to the loaf.
Once you have the basic recipe down, its fun to experiment with different variations: sundried tomatoes are delicious, as are mushrooms and fresh herbs.
But here, Ive stuck to my own basic recipe which is quite close to Danièle Starenkyjs original and deliciously flavorful as is.
I love this recipe because it contains ingredients that I almost always on hand in my kitchen. But I should say a few important words about the one ingredient some of you may not be familiar with. If youve never heard of nutritional yeast, dont fret, its not as gross as it sounds and it lends incredible flavor and nutrients to this pâté so resist the urge to skip it. Its worth seeking out (also because it happens to make the best all-time popcorn sprinkle-on topping). Nutritional yeast can be hard to come by but most health food stores carry it. There are several different types of nutritional yeasts. Do not use brewers yeast or bread yeast, you would get very different and probably alarming results! Do not use the powdered version either. Be sure to use only the light flaky kind. Here is a photo of what it should look like.
I grew up with veggie pâté so to me its a wonderful and versatile comfort food. Im always curious to hear feedback from people who are new to it, so I would love to read your comments below if you do make it. Enjoy!
- 1 medium-large onion, chopped (about 2 cups chopped)
- 3 medium-sized cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 medium-sized raw carrot, grated (about 1 cup grated)
- 1 medium-sized raw potato, grated (about 3/4 cup grated)
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes (also known as Engevita yeast flakes)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup roughly ground (or finely chopped) sunflower seeds
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp Bragg’s liquid soy seasoning + 1 tsp salt (or sub for 1 Tbsp salt in total)
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Take 2 Tbsp of olive oil out of the 1/2 cup of olive oil and place it in a large skillet on medium-low heat. Reserve the remaining olive oil for later. Sauté the chopped onions in the 2 Tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the chopped garlic and cook with the onions for another 10 minutes or so are until they start to get golden and a bit caramelized. Stir often to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from heat.
- Place the raw grated carrot and potato in a blender or food processor along with the cooked onions and garlic and 1/2 cup of hot water, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp Bragg's liquid soy. Blend until the whole thing is puréed. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, tiny chunks are ok. Pour this mixture into a large bowl and add all the remaining ingredients: remaining olive oil, nutritional yeast flakes, whole wheat flour, ground sunflower seeds (use a coffee grinder to grind roughly or chop them by hand), salt, and black pepper. Stir everything together until evenly mixed. The mixture should be about the consistency of thick muffin batter.
- Spoon this mixture into a 4 x 8 inch loaf pan. If you wish, line the loaf pan with parchment paper first for easier removal. Bake for 1 hour at 350F. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan. Once fully cooled, wrap the loaf in waxed paper and chill in the fridge. The pâté is best once it’s had a chance to chill and settle for a few hours so make it ahead of time if need be. Slice and serve on crackers or in sandwiches.`
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series has been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards for Best Video Webcast (On Location). In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.