This vegetarian wild mushroom paté recipe is a delicious, easy and versatile way to use the wide range of fungi that often come back from a foray, as well as those old jars of dried mushrooms lurking at the back of your store cupboard from previous autumns.
Its also a great way to get the best out of fungi that aren’t quite on the top tier of gourmet mushrooms – perhaps with an unappetising texture (like mature birch boletes for example), or those that are no longer in pristine condition. I grade chanterelles – with the lowest grade being reserved for paté.
I tend to make lots of wild mushroom paté in late October and November, when my teaching schedule slows down, and there are kilos of dried mushrooms in my pantry (hastily dehydrated during the early autumn bolete surge), and many tons of late season mushrooms getting waterlogged and about to rot in the forest. Winter chanterelles, hedgehog mushrooms, honey fungus, hen of the woods, wood blewits and trooping funnelcaps tend to feature quite heavily, but really, most mushrooms will work, including – if you must – cultivated mushrooms.
This wild mushroom paté freezes well, so I tend to make large batches to see me through the winter and well into spring, and to serve on my wild food tasting picnics at the end of my guided walks.
It is delicious on oatcakes, toast or rye bread, perhaps with a sprinkle of dried laver powder if you have it, but this is more than just a paté – it also works as a convenient instant sauce that can be stirred into pasta, soups and stews or daubed on pizza bases. I freeze it in small tubs for maximum versatility.
If you are making it well in advance and freezing it for future use, think carefully about who you might serve it to: some edible mushrooms are more “gastrically challenging” than others, and it would be a shame to suddenly remember during christmas dinner that your delicious wild mushroom paté starter contains clouded agaric, or another mushroom that should be tried with caution at the first time of eating. For wider discussion of where some edible wild mushrooms sit in the “spectrum of edibility”, see this post, and read the species profiles in my fungi guide.
If you think you might be sharing your paté with the mycophagly inexperienced, best to stick to the more widely consumed, species that most people get on with. Chanterelles, winter chanterelles, birch boletes, penny buns, hedgehog mushrooms, hen of the woods, puffballs, horse/field mushrooms, charcoal burners and oyster mushrooms are fine for most people, provided they are thoroughly cooked, as they are in this recipe. I’m not a big fan of jelly ear or beefsteak mushroom in this recipe, but don’t let me stop you from trying.
Its also a good idea to accurately label tubs of mixed mushroom paté with all the species of mushrooms you used. I batch and label my wild mushroom patés on a sliding scale: tubs labelled “CIVILLIAN” I serve to anyone, while those labelled “MYCOPHAGIST” are for fungi-loving friends only. Occasionally, when I rummage in the deepest icy depths of my freezer, I turn up the odd tub labelled “FUNGI NINJA” or “CAVEAT EMPTOR”!
As with all my recipes, I present this more as “an approach” to making wild mushroom paté, rather than a prescriptive recipe. I urge you to mess about with the proportions to suit your taste. I’ve suggested some wild spices/seasonings and other embellishments, but do play with your own spices and seasonings – and add a comment if you have any recommendations.
Vegan Wild Mushroom Paté Recipe
Its easy to make this recipe vegan-friendly by replacing the cream cheese with either tofu and a splash of oat milk, or chick peas (or another pulse that blends down to a smoothish paste), and replacing the parmesan with a few handfuls of yeast flakes. I prefer though, to make a “pure mushroom” version for vegans – which is the entire recipe, only with the cream cheese and parmesan omitted, and nothing added in their place. Its intense, but rather wonderful, and often the vegans on my events get envious looks from the omnivores!
Makes a large batch
- 1 kg fresh wild mushrooms – cleaned
- OR 250g dried wild mushrooms, reconstituted by soaking boiling water for 30 minutes, then strained before using as per instructions for fresh mushrooms
- OR a combination of fresh and dried wild mushrooms. I prefer a combination – reconstituted dried mushrooms tend to bring an extra intensity, and I strongly recommend using at least some dried penny bun if you can, as they bring an intensity of flavour that exceeds most other mushrooms
- Butter or oil for frying
- 500g Cream cheese (or less if you want your paté more mushroomy)
- 200g Parmesan, or other strong, hard cheese, finely grated
- A large handful or sorrel or wood sorrel leaves (or lemon juice)
- Salt and pepper
I usually add some or all of these “extras” to take the paté to the next level – but its perfectly delicious without.
- Dried penny bun powder (should be cooked along with the mushrooms) – adds even more mushroomy-ness!
- Dried peppery bolete powder – or finely chopped fresh peppery bolete (should be cooked along with the mushrooms) – extra mushroomy seasoning.
- Black garlic – add to the food processor
- Pickled walnuts – chop finely and stir through finished paté
- Mushrumami seasoning
- Dried laver seaweed powder
- Miso paste
- Soy sauce
- Roughly chop your mushrooms
- Heat the butter/oil in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms
- Cook the mushrooms thoroughly over a medium heat, ensuring all excess moisture is driven off (Bonus! – The liquid exuded from the mushrooms as they cook can be strained off and makes a delicious “pure mushroom broth“)
- Leave the cooked mushrooms to cool, then give them an extra squeeze to remove any excess moisture
- Place the cooked mushrooms in a food processor and blend. If you like a smoother finished paté, blend them thoroughly
- Add the grated parmesan
- Add the cream cheese, sorrel/lemon juice, seasoning and any other embellishments to the food processor. I add them in stages, tasting as I go. You may need to do this in batches, or mix by hand in a large bowl
- Put the finished paté in small tubs, and label accurately with the species of mushrooms that you used
- Good for 1 week in the fridge, or freeze