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” 😉

Walnut, Apple & Cinnamon Coconut Balls

I’ve got a few organic green apples building up in my fridge and since I promised the Manager of Eden Health Retreat (where I work as a Fitness Therapist) a treat this week, I’ve put on my creative thinking cap. Apple goes so well with Cinnamon, yes? And Walnuts. Even though they aren’t the most appealing nuts in the taste department (unlike roasted almonds or cashews!) they are PACKED with goodness. So if you’re not a fan, maybe these morsels will help you to ingest them. You really should try to use organic apples as well, since they absorb more chemical residue (from pesticides, fertilisers etc) than many other fresh foods. Every year the Environmental Working Group (US) releases a list of the top 12 (“The Dirty Dozen”) foods to avoid if grown conventionally and apples seem to always appear near the top of the list. Here’s a link to the current list and the EWG site if you want to take a look: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

It’s been a long time since I have made ‘balls’. I went through my obsession with them about 6 or 7 years ago when I first delved into the Raw Food arena, but found them a little time consuming and messy to make, all up. Yes, not a great advertisement I realise, but I “gots ta be” honest! Even with the Thermomix, it’s the rolling out and coating of the little suckers that chews up your time…and dirties your hands.Food Fervour

Nonetheless, I had an idea (and some time) yesterday, so I was going to test it out. Lucky for me, it worked. Well, the boss-man hasn’t had his share yet, but my physio and some of my private training clients have given them the thumbs up! (See, training with me doesn’t involve suggestive purchase of protein/nutrtional supplements or products…. my clients get to be guinea pigs for my whole, clean food experiments!) Warning: they won’t be really sweet, but if you use a sweeter variety of apple it could suffice. As a LAST RESORT, if you HAVE to add sugar (wusses!) I think coconut sugar would be your best option.

Basically you will need:

1 cup (130gm) dates, 1 cup (250gm) water, 1 apple, 1½ cups (150gm) walnuts, 2-3 heaped tspns ground cinnamon, 1 cup (60gms) desiccated coconut (extra for rolling), 3-4 teaspoons chia seeds.

Soak the dates in the water for at least an hour, then drain as well as possible, pressing out excess fluid out (I told you your hands would get dirty!) Place roughly chopped apple (skin ON, for nutrient density & fibre – unless it’s not organic & you are justifiably concerned) in a high-powered blender (Thermomixers, you know it!) until finely chopped. This will invariably involve a few stop-starts as you’ll need to scrape down the sides of the blender. Set the apple aside, rinsing & drying the blender as well as possible so that you can ‘pulverise’ (or not: sometimes chunks are good!) the walnuts. (Thermies: 5-10 secs, speed 7ish) Add the cinnamon, dates, apple, coconut and chia seeds, then blend and scrape until you feel the mixture is well enough combined.

Now, the messy part: pop some extra desiccated coconut on a large (dinner) plate and …..go wash your hands again! To make sure the balls are really ‘compact’ I palm roll them first, then roll in the coconut, and palm roll them again. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.