Friday 1 May 2009

Mushroom and Lentil Ragout

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
Serves 3-4

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


  1. Mmm this looks like a yummy and comforting meal. Those portobellos are huge! I have trouble with the labels I've put on posts - especially because when I first started my blog I'd just label entries with whatever I thought fit, without thinking about some kind of system for categorizing things.

  2. This looks delicious! It's a little too warm here now for such a hearty meal, but i'll definitely keep this in mind for one of those cold, wintery nights!

  3. Ha, I wish my own "Original Recipes" label had nearly as many entries as my "Internet-Sourced Recipes"!

    I love being able to label posts (and particularly bookmarked recipes) with as many keywords as I like - it sure comes in handy when I have, say, pastry in the freezer or know that rhubarb is in season! My next task is to tidy up my categorisation of the world's cuisines into different regions... unfortunately I possess a terrible combination of fastidiousness and laziness. :-D

    eatme_delicious, if you're having labelling regrets it is possible to add and remove labels from old posts! I once spent an utterly dull weekend developing a labelling system that I was happy to stick to. :-)

  4. thanks Ashley - labels are such a dilemma when you start a blog aren't they - I was glad I didn't do too many labels when I started but I have had to add some retrospectively that I think useful

    Thanks Jodye - it is definitely a better meal for winter than summer

  5. I love ragouts in the colder weather. Portobellos are fantastic looking things-they remind me of hats!

  6. Yum! This sounds just perfect for the cold cold weather that's decided to arrive this week!

  7. I absolutely love anything with goat cheese in it.

    Great dish!

  8. Oh my, I could not resist this. Those mushrooms are so tempting. Great idea to include lentils.

  9. I know what you mean about labelling posts - and I have a few I wish I could get rid of now! Your original dish sounds far too good to wait for the cold weather - big mushrooms, lentils, lovely polenta - I think I could stand that in the spring too!

  10. Oh! Those portabellos look amazing! You are making me hungry. It is a little bit of a chilly day over here. If I had portabellos on hand, I would totally make this.

    You know, I have been reading you for a while. I am a vegetarian and a mother. I like that your recipes are "real" you know. Regular people can make them in a regular life without all kinds of fancy gadgets. Just thought I would tell you...

  11. i adore every single ingredient in this recipe. i have bookmarked it.

  12. Thanks Cindy - I think one of my uncertainties with labelling is whether to label recipes gluten free or vegan for other people - when I haven't used GF or V ingredients but they can easily be adapted. I have never thought about labelling bookmarks - this sounds like something I should learn (maybe I need a dull weekend!)

    Thanks Lorraine - I sometimes think mushrooms as fairy homes - would that make portobellos their mansions???

    Thanks Vegetation - it does seem a great cold weather dish - don't know what I was doing making it on a hot day

    Thanks Jenn - I am just coming around to goat cheese - this dish was a good one to convince me of its merits

    Thanks Lisa - yes, hard to walk by these mushrooms without buying a couple

    Thanks Lysy - Cindy says it is easy to get rid of unwanted labels - but you may want a dull weekend to sort them :-)

    Thanks Madame Ladybug - nice to hear from you - very kind comments - I am all too human sometimes but enjoy sharing what I cook!

    Thanks Bee - high praise indeed and a sign of your good taste :-)

  13. And on a bed of soft polenta, too!
    Lovely recipe, Johanna. There's nothing I would change.

  14. Sounds like a wonderful ragout! And certainly original in my mind. ;) I suspect there's really nothing entirely new anywhere, but this type of creation is definitely your own.


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