This recipe is my favourite ever dinner. I first saw the original recipe on this blog and wondered about the claims of it being life changing but it is, it really is. Any recipe that gets my children using the words 'lentils' and 'yummy' in conjunction with one another is a heaven sent miracle. And of course it wins points with me because it contains wine which means I can have a glass to keep me company while cooking. Like most recipes it has evolved slightly in my care but either way it is super-tasty.
Let me start by saying my kids 'Don't like mushrooms, mummy' which is why I prepare this in the food processor so they are pulverised into oblivion and they can't spend their time picking them out. As I'm using the processor I may as well do the lot in there. If you don't need your mushrooms to be invisible then chopping by hand is just fine. However the mushy veg does look a bit 'bleuurgh!' while cooking. See? Yuck!
I do the carrots in small chunks as they are an accepted and popular member of the vegetable family and add some much needed colour. Because at some points in cooking this it is perfectly normal to wonder what on earth this giant pan of brown sloppy mess is. You might even panic and eye up the pizza delivery menu. Then right at the very end it starts to look right and all is well with the world.
Lentil and Mushroom Ragu
based on original from Eat The Right Stuff
2tbsp olive oil
2 onions finely chopped
1 stick of celery (hate the stuff raw and have it left from making pasta sauce)
2 carrots, finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms (reduced from 300g due to the pack size sold)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g puy lentils (I use ones sold as dark green specked lentils)
150ml red wine
1-2tbsp tomato puree
1tsp dried oregano
2x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
750ml vegetable stock (made with Marigold Boullion)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil to serve
In a large pan heat the olive oil. Process the onions with the celery then add them to the pan along with the chopped carrots to soften over a low heat. While that is cooking process the mushrooms with the garlic and then add these to the pan. Cover the pan and simmer until the mushrooms begin to release liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the basil and simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes. The lentils should be cooked through though you may need to cook for more or less time or adjust the level of liquid to reach the right consistency. They should be thick but not too dry.This is also easily adaptable for the slow cooker, you will only need about 500ml of stock. Any extra (and there will be extra!) can be frozen or made into lasagne or shepherds pie or simply served with spaghetti which is how we have it. I really love the idea of the lasagne but last time I made one using lentils it was described by the children as 'dog poo with cheese' and my pride has yet to recover.
Till next time!