First, credit where credit is due. Years ago, Vegetarian Times published this recipe, and Maple Spice posted a wildly convenient update taking advantage of store-bought almond meal to save us all from blanching and peeling and ensuring those of us without high-speed blenders could join the creamy fun.
If you aren't familiar with the basic recipe there, it's highly recommended. It's a big, dumb, entirely unsophisticated, totally genius dish—food designed to head straight for your pleasure center with no thoughtful tasting required. It's a household favorite, a vegan classic, and makes even the otherwise dullest vegetable sandwich seriously satisfying.
But today, a pretty little plate that puts that dead-simple recipe to work in a gently sweet direction with luscious results. Blueberries are first briefly cooked to tease out vibrancy.
Meanwhile, a little sugar, lemon, and lemongrass are added to almond meal to sandwich the blueberries. The lemongrass used here is dried—a gift from a friend—but don't let that stop you from making this if you can't locate it. It will be entirely lovely without, or sprinkle a touch of lemon zest in if you prefer to add a touch of something in its stead. All it takes is a quick blend, chill to firm it up, bake it off, and prepare to be fed and happy. And you should definitely feed this to anyone and everyone you care about.
It's lovely alone on a plate with crackers, fresh fruit, and a more salty/garlicky offering like hummus or baba ghanouj. No one could fault you for spreading it on a waffle. (And it would be shocking to find out this didn't work gorgeously on a grilled sandwich with tempeh bacon.) It's a winner any way you spread it.
Blueberry-Lemongrass Almond Pate
1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
3 TBSP lemon juice, divided
3 TBSP natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice), divided
75 grams blanched almond meal [see Note]
1/4 cup water
1 TBSP vegetable oil, such as canola or sunflower
1 tsp dried lemongrass (optional)
generous pinch fine sea or kosher salt
Combine blueberries, 1 TBSP lemon juice, and 1 TBSP sugar in a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until berries break down (the mixture will still be chunky) and are thickly glazed, 5-7 minutes.
Blend all other ingredients, including remaining lemon juice and sugar, with an immersion blender until very smooth.
Line an 8-oz ramekin with a double layer of cheesecloth. (A closed nut milk bag may also be lain into the ramekin, but the softer cheesecloth will give you a neater mold.) Spoon half the almond mixture into the ramekin, spreading and smoothing the mixture into the mold with the back of your spoon. Spoon the berries on top, leaving a small border, then finish with the almond mixture. Smooth the top, and chill at least 3 hours, or as long as overnight.
Heat oven to 350, and oil a cookie sheet. Use the ends of the cheesecloth to lift the pate out of the ramekin, remove the cheesecloth, and transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. (Alternately, if your pate seems a bit soft—the longer the chilling time, the less likely this will be—simply invert it onto the baking sheet and then peel the cheesecloth from the bottom.) Bake in the center of the oven until just golden, 35-40 minutes. Let cool before serving.
[Note: This works out to approximately 3/4 cup, plus 2 TBSP. Weighing is strongly recommended, as the final consistency (read: creaminess) will be affected with too much or too little almond meal. Weighing the meal will provide more consistent results.]