Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mushroom Nuts - or - Almond Mushroom Pâté

This past summer, Stacey P., a former resident of Ohio, wrote asking if I’d ever heard of a recipe called “Mushroom-Nuts”, an appetizer she’d sampled at a Mediterranean restaurant. She described it as a mixture of crushed mushrooms, nuts, garlic, herbs and mayonnaise. Stacey was hoping for the recipe because, as she put it, “This stuff is addicting and I am moving out of the Cincinnati area, so I will not be able to get it.”
Since this sounded like a desperately urgent request and I was away from home, I suggested she ask the folks at the restaurant, Mirage Mediterranean, to share their recipe with her. If that didn't work, I promised I'd look for a recipe on her behalf when I returned to The Armenian Kitchen. (By the way, the Mirage Mediterranean restaurant is owned by 2 Armenian- American brothers in Cincinnati, Ohio!)

Stacey did inquire, however, she asked the waitresses who didn’t speak much English, so no luck there. She planned to ask again at her Going Away Party.
In the meantime, Stacey combed the internet and found a recipe for Mushroom Almond Pâté which she planned to try once she moved and had her kitchen organized.

Time passed…
I came across Stacey’s original request recently, realizing it had fallen by the wayside.

Wanting to make good on my original promise, I altered the recipe Stacey found using some of the ingredients she mentioned then adding a few of my own, and omitting others.
(When Stacey can, she’ll make the recipe she found and report back.)  

Almond and Mushroom Pâté
Yields about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup sliced almonds (or your favorite type of nut)
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms (use your favorite kind of mushroom or a combination)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon *Herbes de Provence – a blend of thyme, basil, savory, fennel, and lavender (dried thyme, oregano, basil may be used)
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Step #1
1. Pan-toast the almonds in an ungreased non-stick skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Steps 2 and 3
2. Heat olive oil in the same skillet on medium heat. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, herbs, salt  and pepper.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.

4. Place toasted almonds and 2 Tbsp. olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process them forming a paste.

Steps 4 and 5
5.  Add mushroom mixture and process until smooth. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add lemon juice and process another moment.
6. Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. (Allow flavors to blend at least an hour before serving.) Best served warm or at room temperature with your favorite crackers or crudité (cut raw vegetables, such as carrot and celery sticks and pepper strips).

*Note: to give this spread a more Middle Eastern flair, use za’atar instead of Herbes de Provence, and Aleppo red pepper.

Our Evaluation: We enjoyed the earthiness of the mushrooms, the subtle crunch from the nuts, and the hint of brightness from the lemon juice. It tastes better the next day. 

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