The Flaming Vegan

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Balsamic Onion and Spiced Lentil Paté
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Balsamic Onion and Spiced Lentil Paté

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Many of the tastiest recipes have come about by accident. From the caveman who first dropped his mush of water and grains in the fire only to discover bread, through to the moment when someone got their chilli and dark chocolate mixed together, happy accidents can create the foods of legend. It's that sense of experimentation, of not knowing what you might create that makes cooking so much fun.

That sense of accident and adventure is how I ended up with this recipe. Originally meant to be part of lentil and spinach salad, I over cooked the red lentils and ended up with a mush. But combined with these other ingredients it made an incredibly tasty mush, one that can stand alongside other vegan patés as a tasty starter or lunch.


  • 125g/4oz split red lentils
  • 300ml/10fl oz water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 fresh red chilli


  1. Heat the lentils and water in a covered saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes, until the lentils start breaking down. Drain off any excess water.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop the onions.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onions for ten minutes.
  4. While the onions are cooking grate or finely chop the ginger, crush the garlic and deseed and finely chop the chilli.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients to the onions and reduce the mixture over a medium heat until it's thick and syrupy.
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat. Ad the lentils and stir in thoroughly.
  7. Leave to cool.

Serve with crackers or crusty bread.


Why just have one pate recipe when you can have dozens? This basic approach be varied in all sorts of ways:

  • Instead of soy sauce and spices try adding Italian herbs such as basil, oregano and marjoram. Dried herbs can added to the onions with the garlic and vinegar, or chopped fresh herbs can be mixed in when you add the lentils so as to keep their flavour.
  • Try adding sun dried tomatoes to the herb version. Put them in with the lentils after ten minutes so that they can soften up in the water.
  • Use lime juice in place of the vinegar and sherry and add cumin and coriander for a curry-style treat.
  • Try your own favourite combinations of herbs and spices for your own perfect starter!


Picture by Kari Sullivan via Flickr creative commons


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