Almost every vegetarian I know makes exceptions from time to time. All but the most steadfast ideologues will have that occasional bowl of chuck meat chili or spaghetti carbonara.
For the sake of credibility as "The Vegetarian" columnist, I won't name my exceptions. But I will mention that one of my best friends, a longtime vegetarian, is not beyond stripping a strand of prosciutto off of a companion's melon and eating it. And I have another friend who's sworn off meat in all forms but one--pate de fois gras.
I empathize. Pate poses a vexing problem for the vegetarian gourmand because good pate is near the pinnacle of culinary achievement. This pate isn't meant to substitute for the inimitable fois gras ; it is sensational in its own right.
Butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
7 eggs, lightly beaten
Half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh button mushrooms
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
1 (1-pound) can carrots, drained
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Toast or crackers
Butter 9x5 inch loaf pan. Saute green onions in butter until translucent. Add spinach and continue to saute 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
In medium bowl, combine 3 eggs, 2 cups half and half, 1/4 cup bread crumbs and cheese. Season to taste with salt. Add spinach and stir until well combined. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth surface.
Trim mushrooms and wipe clean. Reserve 6 perfect mushrooms, then toss with lemon juice and set aside. Chop remaining mushrooms.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in saucepan and saute reserved whole mushrooms 5 minutes, turning often. Lift out and arrange in row over spinach.
Saute chopped mushrooms and onion in same saucepan until onion is translucent. Stir in Sherry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add 2 eggs and 1/4 cup bread crumbs and spoon over spinach layer.
Puree carrots until smooth. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour, 1/4 cup half and half, ginger and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to boil. Remove from heat and beat in remaining 2 eggs. Spoon over mushroom layer.
Cover pan with wax paper, then foil. Set in larger pan. Pour boiling water into outer pan to depth of 2 inches.
Bake at 350 degrees until pate feels firm to touch, about 2 hours. Transfer to wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.
Run thin knife around pate and turn out onto plate. Invert pate onto another plate so it comes out right side up. Serve with toast or crackers.