Herb-garden pâté 

This is, obviously enough, a pâté for summer. Also, it may seem, a pâté mainly for those who are lucky enough to have a herb garden ready available. That's certainly an advantage, but not all of the herbs I have suggested are in any sense necessary or the only ones suitable. And those you do have can nowadays be complemented by other fresh herbs that are  conveniently on sale in supermarkets. Simply use those you can gather together. 

Truffle oil (white or black) is very useful in vegetarian cooking. It's worth keeping a small bottle of it in the store cupboard (though not the fridge). Here it contributes greatly to the rich smoothness of the pate. The varied green shades of the lentils and herbs produce a pâté that is deep olive in colour. 

For more general information on vegetarian pâtés, see my article Bean and Lentil Pâtés

Ingredients 

Green lentils, 110g (4oz)
One large field mushroom, about 75g (3oz) in weight, stripped, destalked and chopped
Herbs, a good handful, freshly picked, taking whatever you fancy or whatever is on hand. For example, parsley, mint, lemon balm, tarragon, chives, thyme, bay, rosemary, sage, marjoram. Take small amounts of each, without allowing any one of them to dominate
Stock
Yeast extract, no more than half a level teaspoon
Salt and pepper
Truffle oil, white, two level teaspoons  

Method 

Prepare the lentils in advance. Rinse them in running cold water, place in a bowl, cover with hot stock and stir in the yeast extract. Leave to stand for up to an hour. The soaking can be for a much less than this, but an hour will shorten the cooking time. 

Lightly rinse the herbs in cold water and dry on kitchen paper. Discard any hard or woody stalks, retaining only the leaves. Otherwise leave the herbs whole. Roughly chop them together. If you are including a bay leaf, leave it whole and remove from the cooked mixture before blending the pâté. 

Fry the mushroom gently for a few minutes in olive oil and some (optional) butter. Stir in the herbs. Add salt and pepper, cover very lightly with stock and cook for a few more minutes. Then add the lentils, together with the stock they have been soaking in, bring to boiling point and simmer. Cooking time will vary according to how long the lentils were soaked, but 15 to 20 minutes should be enough. 

The mixture will thicken during cooking, so watch carefully, adding extra stock if needed. When the lentils are soft and virtually all of the liquid has been absorbed, put to one side for a couple of minutes to cool. Then stir in the truffle oil. Blend the mixture until smooth, adding a little extra stock if necessary. Spoon into pots and chill in the fridge. It freezes well.