After seeing several recipes that call for French (or Puy) lentils, I bought a bag of them…and then promptly forgot where I’d seen the recipes. So I searched and searched yesterday for some delicious way to cook these interesting looking lentils, but nothing I saw looked like what I had conjured up in my imagination: a hearty, French country-style stew with fresh rosemary and mushrooms and wine. That’s when I realized that I already had the recipe in my head. Why was I looking for something in print to validate my vision? So I set off to the kitchen to cook this stew the way I wanted to, writing down the ingredients as I went.
French Lentil and Portabella Stew
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 ounces Portabella mushrooms, sliced or chopped
- 4-5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup (200 g) French lentils, rinsed
- 1-2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (or about 2 tsp. dried, crushed or crumbled)
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- generous grating of black pepper
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 4 small or 1 large red potato, cubed
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
- salt to taste
- In a large soup pot or dutch oven, begin cooking the onions over medium-high heat. Add a little water, if you like, to prevent sticking. Stir the onions until they begin to brown (we’re going for caramelized onions without the oil), about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook, covered but stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their juices.
- Add 4 cups of vegetable broth (I used Un-Chicken broth from Imagine Foods, but you can use your favorite broth). Stir in the lentils and remaining ingredients, except the wine and salt. Cover and cook until the lentils are just tender (they’d be al dente if they were pasta), about 20 minutes.
- When the lentils are barely tender, add the red wine. (I used a nice yet inexpensive Merlot, but you can use whatever you like, as long it is a wine you can drink–not one of those horrible “cooking wines” you find in the grocery store. If you are not a wine drinker, you can leave this out, but I like the taste it gives to the stew.) If more liquid is needed, add a little more broth. Check the seasonings and add salt to taste. Cover and simmer until lentils and vegetables are all tender, at least 15 more minutes.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 45 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
Nutrition (per serving): 286 calories, 8 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 507mg sodium, 1220.6mg potassium, 52.4g carbohydrates, 18.4g fiber, 5.3g sugar, 16.6g protein.
I cooked this early in the afternoon and left it simmering on the stove for a while. One of the neighbor kids dropped by and marveled, “It smells delicious in here.” And indeed, it did!
This would be excellent served with a hearty chunk of bread (unfortunately, we didn’t have any.) I served it alongside some steamed, home-grown broccoli (with cashew sauce). It made a simple, delicious meal.
Now for the Children’s Review: E. loved it! She told me to be sure to add it to the Kid-Friendly list. I even packed some in a thermos for her lunch today.
About the lentils: French lentils hold their shape better than regular brown lentils, but if you can’t find any, brown lentils will work in this too. Just adjust the cooking time as regular lentils cook more quickly.
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