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Everyday vegetables combine to make an exotic pate

By a staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / November 30, 1983



Vegetable dishes offer a delightful contrast to the rich, somewhat heavy foods we usually encounter during the holidays. A fresh holiday vegetable loaf makes an unusual change-of-pace appetizer. Filled with mushrooms, spinach, carrots, onions, walnuts, and a combination of herbs, it is lighter, more economical, and even more exotic than customary pates.

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It is served in the same way as traditional pates. Slice it and place on lettuce-lined plates for a first course, or serve it as an hors d'oeuvre with a selection of crackers and small bread rounds. The loaf may be made a day or two in advance and chilled. Allow it to return to room temperature before serving.

Select mushrooms that are firm and white or cream-colored with no signs of wrinkling. Fresh mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator four to five days, says the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association.

Holiday Eggplant Relish also makes a fine hors d'oeuvre. The fresh vegetables are sauteed but should retain their crunchy texture. Anchovies and capers contribute a unique zest.

The recipe makes enough for entertaining, as well as for gift giving. Serve as an appetizer or place on a buffet as an accompaniment to sliced meats. It will keep in the refrigerator several weeks, making it ideal to have on hand during the party-giving season. Fresh Holiday Vegetable Loaf 1 pound fresh carrots (about 6 medium) 2 medium-size onions 2 cloves garlic 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1 pound fresh mushrooms 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon dried leaf savory, crushed 1 teaspoon dried leaf rosemary, crushed Dash hot pepper sauce 1 1/2 cups walnut pieces 3/4 pound fresh spinach, trimmed, washed, dried 1 cup pot cheese 2 eggs, slightly beaten 1/4 cup chopped parsley Cucumber slices Lemon slices

In food processor fitted with steel blade, mince carrots, onions, and garlic. In large skillet melt butter; saute vegetable mixture 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In food processor mince mushrooms; add to vegetable mixture, cook 2 minutes longer. Add salt, savory, rosemary, and hot pepper sauce; cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mixture is dry.

Using food processor, grind nuts; place in a large bowl. Mince spinach; add to nuts. Add vegetable mixture; mix well, cool. Press pot cheese through a sieve; add to vegetable mixture. Stir in egg and parsley; mix well.

Line a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with a double thickness of waxed paper, leaving enough overhang to fold over the top. Spoon vegetable mixture into pan; tap pan on counter to remove any bubbles; smooth top with spatula.

Fold overhanging paper over pate, cover pan with double layer of foil. Set the loaf pan in a larger baking pan; add enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of loaf pan. Bake in 350-degree F. oven 1 1/2 hours. Cool pan on wire rack 30 minutes. Weigh pate with 2-pound weight for 1 hour.

Remove weight and foil; invert pate onto serving platter. Remove paper. Loaf can be refrigerated at this stage.

Garnish with cucumber and lemon slices. Serve at room temperature. Makes about 15 first-course servings or 25 hors d'oeuvre servings. Holiday Eggplant Relish 1 eggplant (1 pound) peeled, cut in 1/2-inch cubes 1 teaspoon salt 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 cup finely chopped celery 1 cup finely chopped fresh onion 1 large fresh tomato, peeled, chopped 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon capers, minced 2 teaspoons sugar 2 anchovy fillets, minced 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley Sprinkle eggplant with salt. Drain in colander 30 minutes; pat dry with paper towels.

In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add celery and cook over low heat, stirring, 10 minutes. Add onion, cook 10 minutes longer. Remove to a medium bowl.

Add remaining oil to skillet. Cook eggplant over moderately high heat, stirring, 8 minutes or until eggplant is lightly browned. Return celery mixture to skillet. Add tomato, vinegar, capers, sugar, and anchovies. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in parsley. Cool. Cover. Chill 3 hours. Makes 3 cups.