Why It Works
- Roasting the cauliflower brings out a deeper richness and dehydrates it slightly, helping to create a thicker, more pâté-like purée later.
- Soaking the pecans makes it easier to purée them to a smooth consistency.
- Soy sauce and brandy bring out a deep, meat-like savory flavor.
Most vegetarian pâtés rely on mushrooms for their meaty texture and flavor, but this one turns to a surprise ingredient—roasted cauliflower—for similar effect. Pecans help thicken the purée to a pâté-like consistency, while splashes of brandy and soy sauce add even more savory depth.
- 2 ounces pecans (about 1/2 cup; 60g)
- 1 head cauliflower (2 pounds; 925g), trimmed and cut into florets
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter (see note)
- 1 large yellow onion (8 ounces; 225g), thinly sliced
- 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup (60ml) brandy
- 1 cup (235ml) heavy cream (see note)
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce
In a bowl, cover pecans with at least 1 inch water and let soak for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 500°F (260°C). Place cauliflower on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, toss with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast, flipping cauliflower with a thin metal spatula halfway through roasting, until tender and deeply browned on both sides, about 20 minutes total.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and cayenne and cook, stirring often, until softened and just starting to turn golden, about 4 minutes. Add brandy and cook until completely evaporated.
Add cauliflower, cream, and thyme. Drain pecans and add to saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then cook, adjusting heat to maintain simmer, until cauliflower has softened and liquid has reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Discard thyme sprig. Add soy sauce.
Using a blender or immersion blender, blend cauliflower and liquid to form a very smooth purée. Season with salt and pepper. To chill rapidly, spread vegetarian pâté in a thin, even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet (a quarter-sheet size is best for this), then press plastic wrap directly against pâté's surface, pushing out any air. Otherwise, transfer pâté to a heatproof container and press plastic directly against surface. Refrigerate until well chilled. Transfer to a serving vessel and serve with crackers or toasted baguette rounds.
Blender or immersion blender, rimmed baking sheet
While the final texture and flavor won't be as luxuriously silky and rich, you can make this recipe vegan by using oil in place of the butter and vegetable stock in place of the cream.