k Marvelous mushroom & lentil ragu with brown rice spaghetti k
I love taking a classic comfort dish and transforming it into something more healthy but without compromising on flavour. This recipe is a deviation from a classic bolognaise – a firm favourite in my house, but in many ways I think it stays true to the original recipe and is without doubt one of most satisfying meatless dishes I have made. I think that both lentils and mushrooms have a ‘meaty and hearty’ quality and texture to them and therefore make a fantastic substitute for meat in this ragu.
Mid autumn in Ibiza is wild mushroom season, there are a number of varieties growing – particularly in amongst the pine forests of the north of the island where I live. Thanks to Sid Shanti’s cookbook he has catalogued and photographed all the mushroom varieties growing wild in Ibiza, thus saving me from an upset stomach or my dinner guests from a hallucinagenic trip. Although thinking about it, that might be quite welcome!
I have only stumbled across Red Pine (saffron milk cap) mushrooms growing wild, they are a stunning bright orange colour…watch out as the gills contain a lot of soil so they need a good clean before using. I made the mistake of chopping them too early before using them and they turned a pretty yucky green colour (still tasted great despite the scary hue though). The markets and vegetable shops in Ibiza have an amazing mushroom selection, to me mushrooms symbolise the change of season and give me that warm comforting feeling of autumn.
For this recipe, nearly any variety or combination of mushroom like shiitakes, king oyster or chanterelles will be terrific here – cultivated cremini and Portobello’s are also great too.
The slow cooked flavour of the umami-laden mushrooms and the lentils soaking up the flavours of garlic, tomatoes, wine and herbs makes a gorgeous gutsy dish, pure comfort in every mouthful. Keeping things even healthier I have used brown rice spaghetti, which is gluten free.
25g dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter (or if vegan 1 tablespoon olive oil)
500g mixed mushrooms – such as shiitake, cremini, king oyster, chestnut – chopped into small chunks
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
4 sticks celery, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
60ml red wine
1 bay leaf
1 tin good quality tomatoes
200g cooked brown lentils, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon chilli pepper flakes
1 sprig fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 Packet Brown Rice Spaghetti (Doves Farm Organic – is great)
Grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley for serving
- Rather than chopping the onion, celery and carrots by hand, you can whizz them in a food processer until finely chopped (but not too small).
- Place porcini mushrooms in a small shallow bowl with just enough hot water to cover and let them stand for 30 minutes. Drain and chop the mushrooms – reserving the mushroom liquor.
- In large sauce pan heat the butter or oil over medium heat and add onions, carrot, celery, pepper and dried oregano. Cook until vegetables are lightly brown and soft, about 10 minutes stirring frequently.
- Add all the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes.
- Add wine and mushroom liquor cook 1 minute stirring constantly. Use wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan.
- Stir in bay leaf, tinned tomatoes, water, lentils, salt, black pepper and red chilli flakes. Heat to boiling then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water, as needed, if the ragu gets too thick. Remove bay leaf and stir in rosemary and basil.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, if desired, and transfer to a large bowl. Add mushroom ragu and toss to combine. Stir in cheese and enough of the pasta water to form a sauce. Garnish with additional cheese and parsley.
* Leave out the cheese as a vegan option