Armenian Bean and Walnut Pâté




Boston chef Ana Sortun is gaining renown for her "Arab-esque" cuisine--for its strong flavors, its exotic accents and (most surprising of all) its delicious and satisfying vegetarian dishes.



                1   cup                      dried red kidney beans (6 ounces) –

                                                      picked over, soaked overnight and drained,

                                                      or use 2 1/2  cups canned red kidney beans,

                                                      rinsed and drained.

              1/2   small                    white onion, minced

                1                              bay leaf

                6   cups                     water

              3/4   cup                      walnuts (3 ounces)

                4   Tablespoons         unsalted butter, softened

              1/4   teaspoon              minced garlic

                1   Tablespoon           minced dill

                1   Tablespoon           minced basil

                1   Tablespoon           minced flat-leaf parsley

                                                salt and freshly ground pepper

                                                Armenian string cheese

                                                baguette slices or torn pita, for serving


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the dried beans, onion and bay leaf. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Drain the beans in a colander and discard the bay leaf. Let cool completely.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake for about 7 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Transfer the walnuts to a food processor and let them cool completely. Add the cooked dried or drained canned kidney beans, butter and garlic and pulse until smooth. Add the dill, basil and parsley, season with salt and pepper and pulse the bean pâté just until blended.
  • Scrape the bean pâté onto a long sheet of plastic wrap and pat it into a 12-by-2-inch log. Wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Slice the pâté 1/2 inch thick and serve with the string cheese and bread.

MAKE AHEAD: The pâté can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.                    SERVES:  8





May 2003

Oaxacan String Cheese in Green Salsa

Quesillo en Salsa Verde

If you arrive for breakfast at the refined La Olla Restaurant & Bar, head to the rooftop dining area, where you can survey the city as you dine in the shade of an umbrella. No matter what you order, be sure to try the cheese with green salsa, which is served with fresh, homemade tortillas. When you're done with your feast, you can walk to the historic Santo Domingo church or the zócalo (the central square).


                2   cups                     water

           1 1/4   pounds                 tomatillos, husked, rinsed

                1                              jalapeńo chile, stemmed, halved, seeded

              1/3   cup (packed)         fresh cilantro

                3   cloves                   garlic

                2   tablespoons          olive oil

              1/2   large                     white onion, sliced

              3/4   cup                      low-salt chicken broth

              3/4   teaspoon              sugar (You can use more or less sugar,

                                                      depending on the acidity of the tomatillos)

           1 1/2   pounds                 queso oaxaca*, cut into 6 portions

                                                Warm corn tortillas


  • Bring 2 cups water to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add tomatillos and jalapeńo chile and cook until tomatillos are tender, about 7 minutes.
  • Using slotted spoon, transfer tomatillos and chile to blender. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid, cilantro, and garlic. Puree until sauce is almost smooth.

·         Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add tomatillo sauce.

·         Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

·         Mix in broth, then sugar; season sauce with salt and pepper.

·         Heat heavy large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add cheese and cook until slightly browned, about 1 minute per side.

·         Bring tomatillo sauce to simmer. Add cheese to sauce and cook until cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes.

·         Transfer cheese with sauce to shallow platter or divide cheese and sauce among 6 individual gratin dishes. Serve with tortillas.

*Note: Melting cheese available in balls, braids, or rounds. It is sometimes labeled queso asadero or queso chihuahua.  If unavailable, substitute mozzarella or Monterey Jack.

Servings: Makes 6 servings.