Mushroom & Lentil Bolognaise Stew

With Winter smacking us in the face this week, I felt the need for a nice thick, warming stew. But having had (what I considered to be) too much meat for some days prior, I wanted something plant-based… that would satisfy me.

Knowing how damned good legumes are for us (very high fibre and plant-based protein) and having a bag of mushrooms in the fridge that I knew needed to be used up, I began the search for a recipe but as usual, nothing I found comprised a vast array of veggies. So, true to form, I ended up adapting; fusing two different recipes together: one Thermomix Lentil & Veg Stew with a Mushroom & Lentil Bolognaise recipe on taste.com.au.

While I chose to make this using my Thermomix, it could be easily replicated by non-Thermie cooks because it’s a one-pot recipe. But a word of warning to Thermomix users: the quantities I used brought the bowl contents right up to the maximum (2 litres) so if you’re a little reticent, perhaps halve the quantities. It will still result in a decent amount of stew.food fervour

Grab the following:

35ml extra virgin olive oil, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 large carrot, 1 stalk celery, 2 potatoes, 170gm uncooked brown lentils, 200gm button mushrooms, 2 tablespoons Thermomix vegetable stock paste + 600gm water (non-Thermies use 700-800ml vegetable stock), 2 bay leaves, 400gm passata (or entire contents of a 400gm tin of tomatoes)

Thermomixers: Add the onion (quartered) garlic cloves, roughly chopped carrot and celery to the bowl and chop for 5 seconds @ Speed 5. Scrape down sides then cook for 3mins @ 100ºC on reverse Speed 1. Meanwhile, dice the potatoes and roughly chop the mushrooms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the potatoes, mushrooms, lentils, stock paste, water, bay leaves and passata (or tomatoes). Stir gently before locking the lid in place and cooking for 45 minutes @ 100ºC on reverse Speed ‘Stir’, with the MC off and the basket (or a light dishcloth draped) over the top to catch splatters.

Stovetop Cooks: Finely chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, then warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the veg and cook for 3-5 minutes (until onion has softened) stirring occasionally while you dice the potatoes & roughly chop the mushrooms. Add the potatoes, mushrooms, lentils, stock, bay leaves and passata (or tomatoes) to the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil before reducing to a simmer, partially covered for approximately 40 minutes.

Allow the stew to rest for at least 5 minutes (ThermoServers are the perfect receptacle) before serving so that the some fluid may be further absorbed by the lentils. It’s a perfect meal on its own, or with spiralised zucchini noodles, but you could add some pasta if you feel that you need “carbo-loading” 😉

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Asparagus & Sprouted Lentils with Avocado Sauerkraut Mash

The key to healthy eating is experimentation. Really, it’s not that hard, with the bottomless supply of information available at your fingertips on the net. I reckon I search for recipes (food ideas) pretty much every day of the week.

Today’s lunch was no exception. I checked out what I had in the fridge – paying particular attention to the veggies that needed to be used up first – and dived right into Google (the best thing since sliced bread….if you want to call that the best thing…)

Asparagus and sprouted lentils were first up. I found an appealing recipe (5th from the top of the first results page). But my (OCD!?) desire for nutrient density meant I had to search further. So I entered avocado & sauerkraut (just getting into sauerkraut for the first time in my life, so am kind of at a loss as to what to do with it) and found this interesting little recipe…

Envisaging how the two separate dishes may just compliment each other, I set to work, and produced this:food fervour

So, what’s in it? And in particular, what the hell is that stuff on top? It kinda looks like refried-beans-but-not? It’s actually avocado & sauerkraut.

I found the Sprouted Lentils with Asparagus recipe here, on the blog ‘My Own Private Kitchen’ and I altered very little: apart from the amounts (I’m ONE person) I omitted the basil, lemon juice, salt & pepper and I cooked in coconut oil instead. Oh yeah… and a lazy thing: I caramelised the onions in my Thermomix, per a recipe in Jo Whitton’s Quirky Cooking cookbook (making extra for later use, coz I LOVE caramelised onions).

The Avocado Sauerkraut Mash – on the website purelytwins.com – intrigued me. It’s so simple …but I found it needed something extra, and that extra was a dash of apple cider vinegar (lemon or lime juice might also do) for more, slightly sweeter, acidity. (I might’ve needed the added ‘oomph’ because my sauerkraut is homemade so could taste completely different – milder – than the stuff the twins use/d.)

To describe the processes super-briefly (for those who can’t be bothered visiting the links) here’s how it all came together:

Firstly I set the Thermomix to work on caramelising the onions for me (this takes about 20 minutes, the same amount of time as doing it yourself in a frypan) so I had time to prep my capsicum & asparagus. Frying them in coconut oil, over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, gave me time to make the ago mash simultaneously: halving an avocado, mashing & mixing it with 2 heaped tablespoons of sauerkraut. I pulled the veggies off the heat (leaving them in the frypan to ‘rest’) then mixed the (dash of) apple cider vinegar through the mash mixture and laid the bed of baby spinach on my plate. I added ½ cup of sprouted lentils straight into the frypan with the cooked capsicum & asparagus and stirred them through to warm. When the onions were done, I added about ¼ cup of them to the frypan, again mixing up the contents before placing them on top of the baby spinach. I scraped out every last bit of the avo sauerkraut mash from the mixing bowl and sat it on top of the lot.

It creates a visual feast, but you have to mix it all through when it’s time to consume: the sweetness of the onions and the capsicum counters & compliments the tang of the mash and there’s definitely one helluva lot of texture in the meal. You could also add a drizzle of olive oil and/or lemon juice if you prefer more moistness.

A Probiotic Toastie?

Since fermenting is now the latest thing in nutrition (to support and/or feed our gut bacteria which play possibly the mightiest role in our overall health) I have tried my hand at making sauerkraut, so that I have at least one natural, clean, ready-to-eat probiotic in my fridge…besides yoghurt, of course. Sauerkraut seemed like the easiest place for a Fermentation Beginner to start. “Probiotics 101”?

My first batch kind of failed, but my second attempt was a success. The question then became what to do with it. How do you eat it? I mean, how is it incorporated it into meals? After just eating it by the spoonful from the jar for awhile (hey, I don’t have to share with anyone so it’s ok!) I discovered it paired well with avocado: its salty tang, moisture and crunchiness compliments avo’s smooth, bland texture. I later realised that I could make a very quick, very simple tasty meal with some nutritional diversity, by adding in some ‘ever-ready-to-eat’ sprouted lentils I have stored in the fridge (no dressing required, thanks to the sauerkraut).food fervour

But today, I wanted something different; something a little more complex and filling. So I went hunting on the net, and came across a few recipes for ‘Reubens’: American-style sandwiches which usually include some kind of cured meat, like pastrami or corned beef. But then I found this vegetarian one: Vegetarian Reubens with Russian Dressing and it looked like something worth adapting.

Since I like to save time & effort (read: lazy!) I went without the dressing, adding avocado instead. It’s a surprisingly quick, warm nutrient-dense meal.

I quickly sautéed the mushrooms with chopped shallots, in coconut oil, pepper & salt, then added the baby spinach, stir-frying until it wilted. Removing that from the pan, I added some more coconut oil and lay my two pieces of gluten free bread, with the avocado already mashed on top, down to “fry-toast”.

A couple of minutes later the grill was warm enough, so I transferred my bread & avocado to the grill, then heaped the mushroom-spinach mix on top of one slice and my sauerkraut over the other, before laying slices of beautiful Nimbin Natural Tasty cheese over the top of both stacks. In less than a minute in my fast, hot grill, the cheese had melted beautifully so all I had left to do was press the two toasties together and transfer to a plate before devouring.food fervour

Now there’s a meal and a half, packed with nutrients, protein, fibre, good fats and of course ….wicked, gut-loving pro-biotics. 😉

 

Red Lentil & Veggie Curry

This is one of my fall-backs. You know: one of those recipes that is quick & failsafe and you know it’s full of goodness. It’s a slightly adapted version of a soup recipe I found in a Women’s Weekly cookbook I snapped years ago, because of its title:food fervour

All I’ve done is reduce the fluid ingredients to ‘thicken’ the soup to a curry consistency. Too. Easy.

To make this delish meal you will need the following:

1 teaspoon coconut oil, 2 tablespoons red curry paste, 400gm passata (or can of crushed tomatoes if you prefer) 2 cups chicken (or veggie) stock, 1 large diced carrot, 2 finely chopped celery stalks, ¾ cup (washed) red lentils, 2 cups broccoli &/or cauliflower florets, 1 large chopped zucchini, handful of roughly chopped snow peas, ⅓ cup (80ml) coconut cream, 2 tablespoons fresh coriander

Method:

Melt the coconut oil in a very large saucepan, then add the curry paste, stirring for about 1 minute. Add the passata/tomatoes, stock, carrot and celery, bringing to a boil before reducing to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the lentils (& cauliflower if using), cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables (broccoli, zucchini & snow peas) mixing well and leave to simmer again, covered, for 5-10 minutes (depending upon how ‘al dente’ you prefer your vege). Stir the coconut cream and coriander through just before serving. food fervour

I love this with or without rice and can even gulp it down cold from the fridge when I’m in a hurry. It makes at least 4 meals for me… and I’m a pretty big eater!

If you have a bit of a clue about curries, I’d encourage you to experiment with the vegetables. My attitude regarding them is “The More, The Better” 😉