03 January 2014

Mushroom, Lentil, and Chestnut Ragù

A ragu is meant to be a little bit sauce-like, but mine was more solid. This is my version of the Myra Kornfeld recipe in my favorite cookbook, the Voluptuous Vegan. I bought my copy about 10 years ago and have slowly worked my way through ever since, triumph by delectable triumph. Allow yourself a generous 3 to 4 hours. It tastes like Thanksgiving! All the picky eaters in my family loved it. Serves 8 hearty eaters alongside the broccoli rabe polenta--which you could make a few days before because it keeps well--of the previous post.

1 Cup whole roasted chestnuts from a jar
1 1/2 Cups French lentils (they keep their shape, unlike some lentils I could mention!)
7-8 sprigs fresh rosemary
7-8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 large portabello mushrooms
6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons shoyu or gluten-free soy sauce
2 onions, diced (2 Cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 celery stalks, cut into large pieces on the diagonal
salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 large lemon

  1. Cover lentils with 8 Cups water in a pot. Add a bouquet garni (tied in cheesecloth) of 6 sprigs rosemary, 6 sprigs thyme, and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes or until lentils are soft. Drain liquid, remove bouquet garni, and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to  375 degrees. Clean mushrooms. Remove stems. Cut the mushrooms into large chunks. Toss in a bowl with 4 Tablespoons olive oil and all of the soy sauce. Spread in a shallow baking pan and roast 30 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a very large saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add onions, garlic, and celery and saute about 10 minutes until softened. Salt it to taste.
  4. Add the lentils to the onion mixture. Salt to taste. Add the mushrooms. Add the chestnuts, breaking them up by hand. Add about 1 Cup water. Simmer to marry the flavors and add any salt or pepper to taste. Turn off the heat.
  5. Mince a teaspoon of rosemary, one teaspoon of thyme, and add it to the mixture along with the lemon juice. Serve immediately while wearing well-polished boots. 

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