• December 05, 2023 4 min read

    Who says beans need to be humble? This vegan pate is inspired by Ana Sorton's famous Armenian Bean and Walnut Pate. We've made a few adjustments and elevated her already delicious recipe with baby beets, cashew goat cheese and balsamic pearls that look just like caviar on top. It's sure to be a showstopper at your next holiday party.

    This is the featured recipe in the December Heirloom Bean and Grain Club and I made it using Mr. Phipps Beach Pebbles featured in the club this month.

    Vegan Heirloom Bean Paté

    The Balsamic Pearls

    Back when I quit my day job as an advertising exec I dabbled a bit in molecular gastronomy. One of the easiest recipes that I attempted was balsamic pearls. They create a caviar look alike that adds a pop of acid for the dish. Don't worry they are really very easy to make and the only special things you'll need is an eye dropper or syringe and agar agar powder which can easily be found in natural food stores and online. 

    Agar Agar is a powder made from kelp that forms vegan gelatin. The advantage to Agar Agar, in addition to being plant based, is that it doesn't need to be refrigerated. Agar Agar is clear and tasteless and dissolves into any liquid when boiled, but it becomes solid quickly at anything under 85 degrees.

    how to make balsamic pearls

    How To Make Balsamic Pearls 

    1. Fill a tall glass with olive or vegetable oil and place it in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes. In an ideal world it's slightly cloudy but not solid.
    2. In your smallest sauce pan combine 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar (I use a middle of the road store bought brand for this, not my really good stuff) and 2 teaspoons of agar agar powder and bring to a boil. 
    3. Reduce to a simmer and simmer while stirring for a full 2 minutes to make sure all of the agar agar is completely dissolved. 
    4. Allow the mixture to cool slightly for 5 minutes.
    5. Take the cold glass of oil from the fridge and using an eyedropper release small drops of the balsamic mixture into the olive oil, letting them float to the bottom of the glass. They will create the round pearl shape as they cool on the way down.
    6. When you have used all of the balsamic strain the glass over a fine mesh strainer, capturing the oil for future use.
    7. Rinse the balsamic pearls and put them in an airtight container. They'll last in the refrigerator for at least a week. 

    Bean Pate Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of Mr. Phipps Beach Pebbles, or another silky, thin skinned bean like Ojo De Cabra or King City Pink
    • 2 cups of water
    • 1/2 cup of minced white onion
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 4" strip of Kombu
    • 2/4 cup walnuts
    • 4 tablespoons coconut oil or vegan butter (I really like the flavor of the coconut oil in this)
    • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
    • 1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
    • 1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns or very coarsely ground pepper 
    • Sea Salt to Taste
    • 2 very small beets, roasted and cooled completely
    • 1 container of vegan goat cheese or make your own from this recipe 
    • Dill for garnish


    1. Place the beans, water, bayleaf, onion, kombu and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a pressure cooker and cook on high for 35 minutes and allow the steam to escape naturally on low for at least 15 minutes.  You can also boil the beans covered on the stovetop till soft (approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours). Beans can be made the day before.
    2. Strain out the water and discard the bayleaf and kombu. 
    3.  Place the beans, walnuts, coconut oil garlic in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
    4. Add the herbs, a good amount of salt and the cracked pepper to the mixture and pulse to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    5. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
    6. Prepare a paté terrine mold or other small dish with plastic wrap lining the pan. You can use any small contailer to mold the pate, it can even be a plastic to-go container because you are not heating it. The plastic wrap should overhang the pan so that you can lift the finished paté out. 
    7. Spread the bean mixture into the mold, cover with another layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours to 2 days.
    8. Shortly before serving, slice the beets thinly and set aside. Place the goat cheese in a pipping bag. 
    9. Unmold the terrine on a plate by taking off the top layer of plastic wrap and pulling the pate out of the mold using the plastic wrap on either side. Flip it upside down on the plate.
    10. Pipe dollops of goat cheese on top of the pate and carefully place beets in alternating colors on top, leaning against the goat cheese. 
    11. Add balsamic pearls on top of the beets, garnish with additional sprigs of dill and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. 

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