Omnivore, vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan and anywhere in between, we're all looking for flavorful party appetizers. Take this savory nut pâté, inspired by Naomi Duguid's gorgeous new volume, "Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan."
The recipe blends toasty nuts and earthy beans with warm spices, fresh herbs and bright lemon. Its flavors are bold and the texture is substantial. Serve this with crackers and bruschetta, as a sandwich spread, or slather it on warm lavash and top with roasted vegetables for a light meal.
The original recipe calls for walnuts, but I prefer the fresh nutty flavor of organic pecans grown closer to home in Missouri. Find them in the bulk section of your favorite co-op. Like most fresh nuts, pecans are highly perishable and their healthful fats can be damaged easily. When shopping, avoid those that appear shriveled or black. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Pecans and their tree nut cousins — cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, macadamia nuts and pistachios — all make fabulous nut butters, too, roasted or unroasted. Best to roast them yourself, as they'll be crisper and taste toastier. To make nut butter, whiz the nuts in a food processor until they become a paste. If it seems too thick, drizzle in a little nut or vegetable oil, then season with a pinch of salt and, if you wish, sweeten with honey. Fresh nut butters will keep for several weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator.
While this recipe calls for pecans, you may substitute any nuts you like. With walnuts, the results are less creamy. Use cashews and you'll have a smoother, slightly sweeter pâté. Feel free to vary the beans, as well. Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) work nicely, though their flavor brings this closer to hummus. Kidney beans will turn the pâté a darker color and give it a bean-forward taste.
Make the pâté a day or two ahead, as the flavors deepen and blend remarkably well over time. It will keep nicely in the refrigerator in a covered container for a week. This pâté makes a delectable addition to the cheese tray, sure to please us all.
Beth Dooley is the author of "In Winter's Kitchen." Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.