Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shitake and Crimini Pate and Lemony White Bean and Veg Salad

When I made the quatre epices yesterday I had some ideas of what I wanted to do with it, but they were only ideas. I thought it might be nice to use cooked mushrooms as a stand in for meat in pate. Our chef friend Ian has put pate back on the regular menu and each time we stop in the words pate and cognac leap off the menu and get my attention. This used to be one of my favorite appetizers. I really wanted to make something that was reminiscent of pate but was also healthy.

Since I didn’t want to serve this on the traditional toast (flour) I baked a batch of my panelle and polenta triangles. Those really do come in handy when you need a food delivery vehicle. I modified it a little from the first recipe which I will tell you about below.

All I can say is what took me so long to try mushrooms in pate? This is both really good and healthy! I will be making variations of this very regularly. It reminds me of meat pate much more than it does mushroom. The flavor of this pate is complex and bright. This may just the best new thing I have made this month. Here is what I did:

Shitake and Crimini Mushroom Pate
serves 4


½ large yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
¼ cup water to sauté onion and garlic
¼ pound fresh shitakes, stems removed (save in the freezer for mushroom stock) caps roughly chopped
½ pound crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon quatre epices, or to taste
salt, to taste


Sweat the onion and garlic in the water until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the mushrooms and quatre epics and cook until the water from the mushrooms has evaporated. Getting the water out of the mixture is important so you don’t have a watery topping. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes, until you can safely move it to your food processor bowl. Pulse the mixture until you achieve the texture you like. I wanted my pate to have a little coarse texture like a country pate so I pulsed the food processor about 8 times. Taste for seasoning and add salt and additional quatre epices, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 44.69
Calories From Fat (3%) - 1.47

Total Fat - 0.17g
Saturated Fat - 0.04g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 5.89mg
Potassium - 373.84mg
Total Carbohydrates - 8.66g
Fiber - 1.96g
Sugar - 3.27g
Protein - 2.52g


This is definitely a winner all the way around, healthy and flavorful. Not to mention it is so low in calories you can eat a mountain of it and not feel guilty. I am going to try this with dried mushrooms. Next time I may add a few chopped pistaschios for texture. I think this has a lot of options that will work. Also you may want to serve this with a little Dijon mustard.

If you still eat oil you may want to drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over this on your toast. We didn’t do that but it would be tasty that way.

We had this on another variation of my panelle and polenta triangles. I was short on polenta so I increased the proportion of chickpeas to polenta. It worked fine and made a “toast substitute” that is just as flavorful but has more fiber. Also I bake these at 350 degrees until they were firm (about 45 minutes) then flipped it over and baked the second side for 15 minutes. That variation was worked fine. The most difficult part was peeling the parchment paper off the bottom of the toast after I flipped it. To make it easier to flip use a baking sheet the same size as the one you baked the “toast” in. Place the cool sheet on top the hot one and flip it over with the two pans together. Slide the polenta back to the hot pan and bake. The parchment will release more easily once the top (previously the bottom) has dried out a little. We use the panelle and polenta crisps very often at our house.

Next recipe:

When I was thinking of the pate I knew I wanted something more substantial to go with the pate. Beans are a wonderful source of fiber and protein so I try to eat them at least twice a day. Years ago I used to make this salad with tuna and plenty of extra virgin olive oil. But other that those two omissions this is a salad that I have made for decades. Here is what I did:

Lemony White Bean Salad
serves 6


1 ½ cup dry cannellini beans
5 cups water to cook beans
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 bay leaves (to improve the digestibility of the beans)
1 -2 lemons, zested and juiced (if not organic don’t use the zest) if you really like lemon use 2
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into ¼’s or ½’s depending on their size (about the size of the beans)
1 English cucumber or zucchini/summer squash, cut into cubes approximately ¼ inch or you can spiralized it and use it as a bed to nest the bean salad into (which is what I did)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and flesh finely diced
2 tablespoons brined capers, drained
2 tablespoons kalamata or oil cured olives, sliced or slivered (no pits)
¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, leaves only, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves only
spinach or mixed greens for serving - optional


Cook the beans in the water with the bay leaves and garlic until tender. Drain the beans and remove the bay leaves and discard. Add the lemon juice and zest to the hot beans so they will absorb more of the lemon flavor. Refrigerate until cold. Then add the remaining ingredients, except the fresh herbs, toss and return to the refrigerator. Add the fresh herbs just before serving and toss to combine, or sprinkle the herbs and olives on top (which is what I did).

Serve on a bed of lettuce or baby spinach. If you also are serving a separate green salad you can also serve this without the greens on the bottom.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 326.07
Calories From Fat (8%) - 26.89

Total Fat - 3.04g
Saturated Fat - 0.26g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 270.94mg
Potassium - 1816.52mg
Total Carbohydrates - 58.75g
Fiber - 14.73g
Sugar - 4.52g
Protein - 19.89g


This salad is very fresh and flavorful. It is one of my favorite bean salads. You can also make it with chickpeas if you prefer. You can make this salad with any combination of vegetables that you like. The trick to getting a lot of flavor is to add the lemon to the hot beans so they beans will have a bright flavor throughout. Also the addition of fresh herbs makes a huge difference in the flavor.

Unrelated Notes:

Dan has been busy today with the new TV installation and set up. He didn’t want the deliver people to install it he prefers to do things like this himself. I think he enjoys using power tools and being handy. Must be a guy thing I would have been happy to allow the delivery people to take care of the installation beginning to end. ;-)

Meal time with the folks was uneventful. I have to say I am always surprised when they like my food because I know how darn healthy it is and needless to say that is not a description of their usual food habits. The fact that my parents seem to enjoy my food never ceases to amaze me. They seemed to like the mushroom pate the most. I have to say that was my favorite as well.

I have not planned dinner tonight so that will be a surprise for everyone, including me. If I come up with something post worthy I will be back with an update tonight.

Talk to you all tomorrow if not sooner. ;-)


  1. alicia, this looks really good. what did yo use as your pita triangles?
    pre-bought? home-made?

  2. I cannot tell you how much I've enjoyed your blog. I am a vegetarian who always wanted to be a Vegan but was scared of giving up tasty food.....and cheese. However, I made your almond feta tonight for a greek salad and not one of my guests noticed the difference. (I added a bit more garlic just because I'm always worried about blandness- it didn't hurt, but the cheese didn't need it.)

    I'm intrigued that you cook almost entirely without oil (as a fellow Italian I know how far you must have come!) Do you have a Greek dressing recipe without oil?

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. Aimee,

    I make a bread substitute using something I made up that is half polenta and half panelle (chickpea flour). I put a link in the post to the recipe. What I did last night was slightly different than the prior version those changes are included in this post. The triangles are very easy to make and are healthy. I make a couple batches of them each month.

    talk to you later,

  4. Aggie,

    Thank you so much for the compliment. I am happy to hear you are enjoying the blog. I completely understand not wanting to give up tasty food. Dan and I were addicted to good food (courtesy of our chef friend). Let's just say we were very spoiled. Changing our food habits was not easy. ;-)

    I am glad you and your guests enjoyed the almond feta. Even our chef friend likes that one, much to my shock I might add, LOL.

    Only another Italian could undestand the pain of eliminating olive oil. That was so tough for me. We used to drizzle it over all our finished dishes, which I know you understand. I do still miss the pepperly flavor of unfiltered Tuscan oil, but I am adjusting. ;-P

    When I make greek salad I use red wine vinegar, oregano and black pepper. Sometimes I add a little fresh lemon juice and zest and/or I puree a few olives into the dressing. Is that what you had in mind?

    Drop by any time. It is always nice to have a fellow Italian around. ;-)


  5. That lemony white bean veggie salad sounds delish, Alicia! It looks beautiful with all the vibrant colors from the vegetables as well :-)


  6. Courtney,

    Thanks! :-) We like our salads with many different veggies. I think fresh herbs add so much flavor to salad. Thankfully my "black thumb" doesn't seem to apply to herbs. ;-)

    I hope your weekend is going well,

  7. Anything with shitakes, count me in! I love the lemony idea for the bean dish, as well. Looks good, as usual!

  8. Blessed Mama,

    I like fresh shitakes too!

    If you don't have lemon you can also use wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. All of them add a little zip to the beans. I do the same thing with steamed veggies, especially potatoes.

    talk to you later,


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