Well, the photos were coming out pretty gruesome, even for someone like me with a penchant for revolting retro food photography.


I realised part of the problem was that I was trying to present this Armenian Bean and Walnut Pate as something in the family of hummus (bean spreads), and the colour, maybe a bit like pet food, just couldn’t present well.  Even the jewels of pomegranate didn’t help– they rather annoyed me, though they were a gift from a friend and quite coincidentally on hand.

But the moment I decided to spread the spread on a crisp cracker, and put it on a plate, which then required a garnish– that was the moment those little cornichons in the back of the fridge came to mind.  These little pickles awakened an instant association with pates of liver and pork or chicken, much relished foods that are not so much on our meat-reduced menu these days.

So all the more reason that this Bean and Walnut Pate is something wonderful.

Ana Sortun serves this pate, cut in slices from the log she artfully rolls, at her restaurant along with Homemade String Cheese, as I learned in her ever-referenced book Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean,

My inclination to make it was based on my desire to explore bean foodways around the world, given my larder full of Hodmedod’s British grown beans and pulses.  Musing on the Red Haricots as so close to kidney beans with an upscaled name, these are cute in size and certainly delicious.  (Are they called Navy Beans in the US? I remember Navy Bean Soup!) (These Hodmedod red haricots are soon to be commercially available.)

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(There is also a great reason to grow kidney beans in the UK– if the bedbug problem resurging in the US happens here too– leaves from the plant are a traditional and non toxic antidote. )

Such an easy recipe:

Cook your 1 cup of beans (I soaked overnight and pressure cooked for 12 minutes).  Sortun adds 1/2 an onion, which I would have done had I properly read the recipe, and a bay leaf.

Puree with 1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, a clove of garlic, salt and pepper (not ungenerous), herbs (I used parsley but she also suggests dill and mint and basil).  I added a little of the bean cooking water to loosen up the mixture in the food processor.

She calls for four tablespoons of butter, to which I adhered out of curiosity, and which is gloriously rich.  Obviously olive oil or walnut oil would be a great silkener in the Vegan style.

Sortun rolls some pomegranate seeds through her log, or dots the pieces with small kisses of pomegranate molasses, “to impart a lemony tartness.”

Mine was not a fancy affair, until I decided to dress it up as meat, and that’s when I felt it came alive as a combination of flavours, meaty in a vegetarian way.  Would be great at a picnic, which feels such a welcome fantasy on this day when the round is covered by pellets of hail.

PS I have a lot of various beans that I saved from last autumn (and the one before) from pods that were too rough and old to eat– I don’t even know what they are anymore.  Do other people have these around?  I could plant them, or cook them, and I think boiling them then putting through a sieve if necessary in this kind of bean pate would be a great use!