So which camp are you in? Love ’em or leave ’em? Well, I love mushrooms. Just like in this Puy lentils with mushrooms and kale dish. There are two sorts here. Dried porcini mushrooms that seem to elevate any mushroom dish and a standard favorite, brown button mushrooms (also known as cremini mushrooms). I think I first fell in love with mushrooms back in my 20’s when I first gave up meat and was looking for a “meaty” replacement that offered some extra protein. That was before the soy hype. Which by the way is a bandwagon I never jumped on considering how much of the crops are genetically modified — at least in the US. Of course, I like my organic unsweetened soy milk in morning coffee and from time to time a little tofu in Asian dishes, but I don’t think just because something is vegan or vegetarian it necessary has to be all about tofu. Bring on the lentils and mushrooms!
Lentils are the perfect vegetarian choice
Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, iron and folate and have the benefit of being one of the easiest legumes to digest. They are super-affordable and filling — great for anyone on a tight budget. But best of all, they taste awesome and unlike beans, you don’t have to soak them. Depending on the type they only take 15-25 minutes to cook so you can whip up a delicious meal quickly. Plus they are great in soups, stews, salads, casseroles, you name it!
Puy Lentils with Mushrooms and Kale
- 30 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups French puy lentils (300 g)
- 1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
- 1 celery stalk, halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 1 small onion, peeled and halved
- 4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon more
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 200 g curly kale, hard stems removed (about 3-4 handfuls) (substitute with spinach or Swiss chard)
- 250 g cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, then quartered
- 50 g sun-dried tomato halves (about 6-8), chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter (or vegan alternative)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine (80 ml)
- 1 fresh red chili, seeds removed and finely sliced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leafed parsley
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Put the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water. Set aside for 20 minutes then drain, and reserve the soaking liquid. Coarsely chop the porcini mushrooms.
Meanwhile, place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Add the carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme and onion, cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain in a sieve. Remove and discard the carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme and onion and transfer the lentils to a large serving bowl.
Toss the lentils with the oil and vinegar. Set aside.
While the lentils are cooking, blanch the kale in a pot of boiling salted water for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain well then coarsely chop. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat then fry the quartered mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, until browned. Transfer to a plate or bowl.
Reduce heat to medium and add the butter and chopped porcini to the same skillet and fry for 2 -3 minutes until fragrant. Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the white wine, cook for a minute then add the reserved porcini soaking liquid, bring to the boil and keep at a simmer, stirring, until reduced by half. Return the sautéed fresh mushrooms to the pan, along with the blanched kale and fresh chili (if using) and reduce the heat.
Cook until heated through and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add to the bowl with the lentils, along with the parsley and toss to combine. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve and enjoy!
There is a some juggling to be done with this recipe, so to save time and effort, the kale could be blanched ahead of time or feel free to use thawed frozen kale. Otherwise, simply things even further by using spinach (stems removed unless using baby spinach) and add it at the end and heat through until wilted.
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