My Thanksgiving menu planning will always be an exercise in fantasy because we celebrate the holiday at my in-laws’, but if I were serving Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year, my menu would include Green Bean Casserole, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, cornbread dressing, Cranberry Relish, Sweet Potato Casserole, Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, and these Mushroom, Lentil, and Wild Rice Timbales.
Since I don’t get to cook much for the actual holiday (and only those items that will travel well) I spend the weeks before the big day doing Fantasy Holiday Meals—not the whole meal, mind you (you know how lazy I am), but a dessert here, a side dish there, as part of a regular meal. It keeps me in practice for holiday cooking and, let’s face it, gives me something relevant to post here for anyone looking for holiday meal ideas. So last night I attempted my fantasy main course. I wanted something savory and elegant, something special enough to be the focal point of a meal but still light enough to allow room for all the other dishes. These timbales, if I say so myself, achieved all of those goals and more.
They’re ridiculously delicious, if not ridiculously easy. The texture is like mushroom pate, with wild rice providing just a touch of chewiness. All the savory flavors that I associate with Thanksgiving are here: the earthiness of mushrooms and lentils, the warm herbal flavors of sage and thyme, a hint of pungency from the rosemary. The idea for this recipe came from Crescent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian, though I changed her recipe so much that she might not want to claim it. First I veganized it (the original contained eggs), and then I completely changed the seasonings. Finally, I tried to simplify it a little, but let’s face it, unless you happen to have cooked lentils and wild rice on-hand (who does?), this recipe will probably take you a couple of hours and leave your kitchen in as bad a shape as it did mine. But let me tell you, it’s worth it!
Mushroom, Lentil, and Wild Rice Timbales
These timbales also make a delicious appetizer spread on crackers.
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 large slices bread (may be gluten-free)
- 2 cups mushrooms, quartered (about 10 large)
- 1/2 cup silken tofu (light, firm or extra-firm Mori-Nu, preferred)
- 3 cloves garlic, quartered
- 1 tablespoon sherry
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch, or arrowroot
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cooked wild rice
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- sliced mushrooms for garnish (optional)
- Make ahead: 1 cup cooked lentils (from about 1/2 cup dried) and 1 cup wild rice (about 1/2 cup before cooking)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 6 ramekins with canola oil or cooking spray and have ready a large baking pan that will hold them (9×13-inch should work). Place one nice-looking mushroom slice in the bottom of each ramekin, if desired.
- Saute the onion in a non-stick pan until it begins to brown. Set aside.
- Place the bread in a food processor and pulse until it turns to crumbs. Add the mushrooms, tofu, garlic, sherry, and water and blend until fairly smooth. Add the lentils and process again until smooth. Add the tomato paste, herbs, cornstarch, and salt and process until well-blended. Add the onions to the processor and pulse to include them but do not over-process (you want them to retain some texture.)
- Scrape the contents of the food processor into a bowl and add the cooked wild rice. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Divide the mixture among the oiled ramekins and smooth the tops with a spoon. Set the ramekins in the large baking dish and add hot water to the dish, taking care not to splash it into the ramekins.
- Bake, uncovered, until tops are brown and crusty and middles seem moderately firm when pressed with a finger–about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges and invert the ramekins onto serving plates. Serve with your favorite mushroom gravy (or see mine below).
Preparation time: 30 minute(s) | Cooking time: 50 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 131 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (5% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; trace Cholesterol; 442mg Sodium; 4g Fiber.
Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy
My mushroom gravy is always an ad lib affair; I don’t think I ever make it the same way twice. Here’s the basic recipe, but the amounts of herbs should be adjusted as necessary. This time I kept them light so that they didn’t compete with the timbales’ seasoning.
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 10 mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon sherry (optional)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons unbleached flour (substitute with arrowroot for gluten-free)
- 1/4 cup plain soymilk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium-sized non-stick saucepan, saute the onion until light brown, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of water, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for another minute.
- Add the vegetable broth, herbs, nutritional yeast, sherry, and soy sauce. In a bowl, whisk or blend (with a hand blender) the soymilk and flour together until smooth. Add it to the saucepan and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s) | Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 31 Calories (kcal); trace Total Fat; (5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 177mg Sodium; 1g Fiber.