It is a wintery day today. So it seems quite some time since I made this mushroom and lentil ragout. Ironically when I made it, it was so hot that I was trying to avoid using the oven, but this stovetop meal was so hearty that it would be perfect for today’s cold weather.
In fact it is so long since I made the ragout that I had to think back to if it served us for one or two nights. Finally I remembered that I had served it with soft polenta (made in the microwave like I did here) and goat cheese the first night because my mum had given us some delicious goat cheese marinated in olive oil. But the second night when I served it with polenta chips and Bill’s Broccoli Rice Salad, unfortunately I forgot about the cheese.
I can’t remember where I got the inspiration for the recipe but I suspect it might have been the huge Portobello mushrooms. I love how they will impart dark deep flavours to any stew. They were so large that I photographed them with my hands (which are on the small side) to show their size.
But I do know that I put in a bit of this and a bit of that and ended up tasting fantastic. So it has gone into a new category I have just added to labels (including tagging posts retrospectively): ‘original recipes’. It is a label I have noticed on Where’s the Beef and always admired. Not my original idea, but it is a good one if people like looking at labels like I do.
When I go to a new blog I like to check out the labels as one way of checking out what sort of food they cook. I particularly look for if omnivores have a ‘vegetarian’ label because I like to see if there are lots of interesting veg dishes. I also love to look at archives or indexes. But I appreciate that these aren’t as straightforward as it seems they should be.
One of the things I hate deciding is categories for labels and my index. I remember working in an office once and thinking my filing system was so obvious until a new staff member came in and started scratching her head when she tried finding a file. In the same way, I am aware the readers have different needs and different ways of thinking about recipes. So at the end of the day, because I can’t please everyone, I try to please myself. Even this is not easy because I need different ways of searching depending on my day and my mood.
Once I have made a decision on what to name a label, I then need to work out what to file under each category without continually making new categories. But the ‘original recipe’ category interested me. Firstly, what constituted an original recipe and secondly did I really make many? One of my former housemates used to say, ‘everything is derivative’. Ricki recent posted about creating Curried Pumpkin Hummus and then discovering other people’s recipes for it on the web. Bearing this in mind, I use the category quite loosely to refer to recipes which I have not taken from an existing recipe on the web or in a cookbook or magazine. However, quite often my recipes are inspired by other recipes, whether consciously or not. And like Ricki, I suspect you would find similar versions of my ‘original’ recipes around.
So here is ‘my very own’ Mushroom and Lentil Ragout recipe. I did a quick search of the web and found lots of mushroom ragout recipes but not so many mushroom and lentil ragouts. I imagine ragout to be dark and substantial but when I checked Wikipedia it said that ragout was a French word for stew or sauce for noodles or starchy food (whereas the Italian ragu refers to a sauce for pasta). Mine was a dark and flavoursome stew. Served with mushy polenta and soft goat cheese, this is a hearty winter meal I would recommend.
Mushroom and Lentil Ragout with Goat Cheese
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp margarine
2 leeks, washed and sliced
2 large Portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 x 400g tin brown lentils, drained
1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
½ a 400g tin of water
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp promite (yeast extract)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ cup goat cheese, to serve (optional)
Heat margarine and olive oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry leeks for about 8 minutes or until softened. Add mushrooms and fry about 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except goat cheese) and simmer for 40 minutes. Serve topped with goat cheese.
On the Stereo:
Wide Open Road: a trip through Australia’s musical landscape – Various Artists