Following the meat craze of the early 2000s, when every animal, vegetable, or cupcake was wrapped in bacon, chefs have finally begun to ease off the carnivorous menu items. In fact, restaurants all over the country are taking cues from vegan and vegetarian menus to find new ways to coax intense, savory flavors from vegetables and grains.
One of the most popular dishes we’re seeing reinvented is in pâté. Traditionally made from chicken liver or pork, the best pâté has always been the heavenly, if controversial, foie gras. Without getting into the politics or ethics, we can all agree that for the environment and our waistlines, a meatless version or what David Lebovitz calls faux gras, is a welcome alternative.
Here are a few options for the next time you feel like eating an entire baguette in one sitting.
1. Faux Gras
The combination of sautéed mushrooms, soy sauce, lentils, and toasted nuts make this spread intensely savory. Even better, most of this recipe comes together in a food processor, so it’s a great quick one to whip up for a last minute party. And don’t skip the Cognac. Trust us. Get the recipe here.
2. Edamame Pâté
Using frozen soybeans here is a quick shortcut to delicious. But the surprise ingredient is the Marmite (or Vegemite), the funky yeast-based paste that brings a depth of flavor that would normally be found in anchovies or parmesan cheese. Get the recipe here.
3. Celeriac Pâté
Celeriac, or celery root, is one of the woefully underused winter vegetables and it has an incredible flavor. Here it gets roasted and mixed with white beans to create a smooth spread to impress. It’s light hue belies the depth of flavor on this, and the roll in in herbs and chile flakes at end give it burst of color and heat. Get the recipe here.
4. Eggplant Chicken Liver
Frying cubes of eggplant takes a little longer than the other recipes, but the payoff in flavor is huge. Typically, an eggplant puree like this would have a looser texture, but hardboiled eggs lend heft to this spread so you won’t even miss the meat. Get the recipe here.
5. Walnut, Roasted Garlic and Chickpea Pâté
Sweet roasted garlic and toasted walnuts take what would otherwise be hummus and transform it into a well balanced treat. Because roasted garlic makes everything great. Get the recipe here.
6. Carrot and Cashew Pâté
It certainly won’t fool you with looks; this is definitely not meat. It’s better. This bright orange pâté is packed with vitamin K and umami, and soaking the cashews ensures a perfectly creamy spread! Get the recipe here.
7. Porcini and Pecan Pâté
Yes, this certainly follows the mushroom+nuts formula for a meaty meatless snack, but this recipe isn’t for everyday snacking so much as wowing. Using the best mushrooms and the highest quality nuts elevates this dish to special-occasion level. Use the freshest pecans you can get your hands on. Get the recipe here.
Header image: Clean Food Dirty Girl
Vanessa W. Simmons is a former cook living in San Francisco, helping to run a food business. She's probably hungry, but if not she could eat.