Once upon a time, in a land far away, vegans everywhere could only force a smile while staring down a plate of steamed green beans with cranberry sauce on Christmas Eve. Before Tofurky was a household name, before seitan worship was accepted in society, we had precious little to celebrate during the festive meal. Now, surrounded by such a wealth of meatless options that are even winning over omnivores, it seems like we’ve suddenly woken up from a bad dream.
It’s easy to find a worthy centerpiece that will satisfy any crowd, but for the best, most memorable feast, it all starts with umami. The so-called “fifth taste” that makes plant-based foods taste impossibly meaty is what Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms are best known for. Rather than just focusing on pure protein, nuance and seasoning takes a merely good recipe and makes it truly great.
Slowly rehydrated overnight for maximum depth of flavor, Sugimoto shiitake are blended into a creamy pâté enriched with toasted walnuts and aromatic fresh herbs. Additional nuts are mixed back in for texture, punctuating each bite with a satisfying crunch. The earthy and wild flavors almost remind me of chopped liver associated with Passover, which could be a game-changer this spring. Such an elegant spread would be enough to serve chilled with toast as a compelling appetizer, but we’re not going to stop there. For the winter holidays, we’re going all out.
Encase anything in a layer of buttery, flaky pastry for an instantly elevated experience. Frozen puff pastry makes this pro move deceptively simple, considering the stunning results. Most people make moves towards Beef Wellington for a showstopping main dish, which is also known in french as Boeuf en Croûte. en Croûte simple means, “in pastry,” don’t you know?
While many renditions use a basic shortcrust, more like classic pie dough, I prefer the laminated layers of puff pastry, draped alluringly in a faux braid across this decadent filling. Don’t be daunted; it comes together in minutes once you take the plunge and get started. It’s easier than wrapping up Christmas presents, but still tastes like a gift.
Dressed up with all the sides and fixings or pared down to solo slices, every serving will dazzle guests. Though boldly savory and lavished with garlic, fresh sage, and thyme, it fits seamlessly into every menu, whether you prefer cornbread stuffing or mac and cheese, mashed potatoes or candied yams, roasted Brussels sprouts or green bean casserole. Don’t forget extra gravy on the side.
Absolutely no one will ask about turkey, glazed ham, or otherwise with this meatless marvel gracing the table. Best of all, it also reheats beautifully the next day, if you can manage to hide some away for leftovers.
- 1 (70g) Package Sugimoto Dried Shiitake, Soaked Overnight
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Medium Shallots, Diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2 Cups Toasted Walnuts, Roughly Chopped and Divided
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Sage, Minced
- 2 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme, Minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Dry Red Wine
- 2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Sheet (Half of a 1 Pound, 2 Ounce Package) Puff Pastry, Thawed
- 2 Tablespoons Aquafaba
- Thoroughly drain the soaked mushrooms and reserve the liquid for another recipe (it's great in soups.) Roughly chop and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, sauteing until lightly brown; about 4 - 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the walnuts along with the sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook, for 2 minutes more until highly aromatic.
- Deglaze with the red wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and simmer gently for 2 - 3 until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the chopped shiitake mushrooms, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and vinegar. Pulse until well blended and creamy, but not quite completely smooth. Stir in the remaining cup of chopped walnuts by hand and let cool.
- When you're ready to assemble, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Roll out the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface until about 16-inches long. Spoon the pate in the center in a 2-inch wide strip, forming it into a tall loaf shape. Leave 1 1/2 inches on the top and bottom of the pastry clear.
- Using a very sharp knife, slice diagonal cuts in the pastry about 1/2 inch apart on each side of the pate. Fold the top and bottom over the center first, then fold over alternating strips on the side to create a braided effect. Pull the pastry as needed to cover and tuck in the ends to secure.
- Carefully move the braided pastry over to a baking sheet and brush with aquafaba. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes in the center of the oven, rotating the sheet halfway through. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown all over.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Use a very sharp knife to slice with a sawing motion and gentle downward pressure; if you cut straight down, the filling is liable to squish right out the sides. Enjoy hot.
- The pâté can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for up to a week if you want to prepare it in advance.
- To reheat leftovers, bake individual slices at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes, until crisp and warm all the way through.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 223Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 225mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.