Red lentil terrine might not elicit a delicious food reaction for you, so think of the vegetarian appetizer this way: it's like combining Japanese condiments with red lentils. The mixture is baked until it sets, which makes it a terrine; once it's cooled and served, the red lentil terrine spreads upon crackers like a paté.
Unlike brown or French lentils, red lentils cook into a puree, so don't be surprised when the lentils transform into an orange mush. Caramelized onions and mirin, or Japanese rice wine, add a natural sweetness to the earthy spread, while umeboshi plum paste and miso contribute to the savory umami flavors. Toasted walnuts, processed into a nut butter, thicken the mixture, ensuring that the terrine bakes into a sliceable loaf.
For parties, opt to serve the whole loaf, or for smaller gatherings, cut a one- or two-inch slice and save the rest for another occasion. Serve the terrine with the crackers of your choice, although I especially love it with either Japanese rice crackers or Mary's Gone Crackers Black Pepper Crackers.
Umeboshi paste is a Japanese plum spread that is incredibly salty and savory. If you cannot find it, then add another tablespoon of white miso.
- 2 cups dried red lentils
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon umeboshi paste (or 2 umeboshi plums, minced)
- 3 tablespoons white miso
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 box of crackers, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a large saucepan, combine the dried lentils, stock, and bay leaf. Cook on medium heat until the lentils are soft and mushy, about 1/2 hour.
- Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat, then add onions. Cook onions until caramelized, then add garlic and dried basil. Cook for one to two minutes, then deglaze the pan by adding mirin, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat and pour mixture into saucepan with lentils.
- In a food processor, grind the walnuts until a they develop the consistency of a nut butter. In the large saucepan with cooked lentils, stir in onion mixture, walnut butter, umeboshi paste, and miso until thoroughly combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon lentil mixture into parchment-lined loaf pan. Bake until firm, about 20 to 30 minutes. Let terrine cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator. To serve, invert the pan onto a plate, and serve the loaf with crackers.
- Appetizers, Spreads
- Serves 10