30 December 2009

Vegetable terrine

Back in 1987, Walt and I were living downtown in San Francisco, just on the edge of Japantown. He was preparing to have a party for some friends and he wanted to make a vegetable terrine using spinach, cauliflower, and carrots. The problem was that we didn't have a blender or food processor with which to make the necessary vegetable purees.

So on the spur of the moment, we went down to Macy's on Union Square and we bought a food processor, the first one I'd ever owned. It was (and still is) a Braun model. Twenty-two years later and far from California, we are today using the same food processor, and we use it several times a week. It was a good investment.

The recipe for the vegetable terrine was a keeper too. In French it's called « Terrine de légumes aux trois couleurs », and we got it out of a book called Terrines, pâtés : 80 recettes simples et raffinées (1985), part of a series called « Vieilles recettes de nos villages » — "old recipes from our French villages."

Here are links to two blog topics that Walt published a few years ago, with nice pictures, about the vegetable terrine: topic 1 and topic 2.

And here's what the recipe says to do to make the terrine:

Vegetable Terrine

1 lb. (500 g) fresh spinach
1 lb. (500 g) fresh cauliflower
1 lb. (500 g) fresh carrots
6 eggs
½ oz. salt
white pepper to taste
nutmeg to taste
1 cup (300 ml) unsweetened cream, whipped

Wash and peel the vegetables as needed and cut the carrots into rounds.

Cook the vegetables separately in boiling water with a little salt. Drain them and squeeze out the excess water. Puree each vegetable separately in a food mill, grinder, or food processor. Let cool.

Into each puree, mix two beaten eggs and one-third of the whipped cream. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to each mixture, to taste.

Butter a loaf pan and put the vegetable purees in by layer, starting with the carrots, then the cauliflower, and finally the pureed spinach.

Cook the terrine in a water bath in a 300ºF/150ºC oven for about an hour.

Unmold the vegetable terrine and serve it with a cream sauce in a gravy boat.
In the notes, the author says:
The proportions and the techniques in this recipe for the vegetable terrine can be used for other vegetable terrines, with broccoli, celery root, chicory, lettuce, and so on.

Cooked in individual molds, these vegetable purees are good served with grilled or roasted meats, including beef, poultry, and fish. In this case they are called "Vegetable Loaves."
In the picture, the book shows the vegetable terrine being served with what looks like steak in a meat gravy, so cream sauce isn't the only option. The vegetable terrine would also be good with a light tomato sauce, for example.

And you could easily use frozen rather than fresh vegetables to make it. Walt used frozen spinach, and he ran the cooked vegetables through the food (meat) grinder instead of whizzing them around in the food processor because he wanted a slightly coarser texture. A manual food mill would work well too.


  1. I've never made a terrine- will give it a go someday.

  2. I have made one terrine that a French woman from Montpelier gave me the recipe for. It had spinach and bacon and something else, as I recall, but I think it had several colors. It was tasty. Yours looks good - I sent the recipe to my vegetarian sister :)



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