This hors d'oeuvre was inspired by traditional pate, but gets its richness from French lentils, cremini mushrooms, and hazelnuts. The legumes and nuts are sources of cholesterol-lowering fiber.
- 1 cup French green lentils
- 2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought vegetable stock
- 1/2 onion, cut into 3 wedges
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces shallots (about 1 1/2 cups), thinly sliced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 1/3 cup dry sherry
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, whites finely chopped, yolks reserved for another use
- 50 low-fat whole-wheat crackers
Bring lentils, stock, 1 3/4 cups water, onion, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer, adding water as needed (about 1/2 cup at a time) to prevent lentils from drying out, until they are tender, about 30 minutes. Discard onion, thyme, and bay leaf; set lentils aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook until mushrooms have softened completely and shallots are deep-golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add sherry, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Remove from heat.
Reserve 2 heaping tablespoons of shallot mixture for garnish; refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. Process remaining shallot mixture, the lentils, and nuts in a food processor until coarsely combined. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in the egg whites.
Line a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing 3 inches to hang over each long side. Spoon lentil mixture into pan, and fold plastic over top. Top with another loaf pan filled with heavy cans. Refrigerate 4 hours (or overnight).
To serve, unwrap top, and invert onto a platter. Bring to room temperature. Garnish with reserved shallot mixture and thyme sprigs. Serve with crackers.