When it comes to cooking, I am more likely to turn to a recipe rather than trying to create one on my own. Sometimes though, inspiration strikes and I attempt to go off in my own direction. Those directions can lead to dishes that are not always exactly awe inspiring, but occasionally I head down a path that takes me to something new and delicious. Which is exactly what happened with this lentil and mushroom dish.
I had been craving the combination of lentils and mushrooms ever since seeing this recipe in the latest issue of Food and Wine. I wasn't completely feeling the combination of spices however, and felt like I wanted something with a contrast of hot and cold components. That's when I remembered a recipe I had bookmarked some time ago for a warm lentil salad served over a bed of frisée. The idea of warm lentils paired next to a cool crisp salad was exactly what I was looking for. The dressing in that recipe however was mayonnaise based, and I wanted something a little less heavy. The combination of mustard and shallots was calling to me, so I whipped up a super simple vinaigrette that was just what I was looking for.
I tossed both the lentils and the frisée in said vinaigrette, layered them on a plate and topped them with a generous serving of sauteed shiitake mushrooms. After one bite I breathed a contented sigh; this was the dish I was craving. The sharp bite of the frisée and the creaminess of the lentils are complemented nicely by the mustard vinaigrette, while the buttery mushrooms add the perfect amount of decadence and a bit of meatiness to the plate. It was perfectly satisfying as a light weeknight dinner, and I'm already contemplating when I can make it again. Basically I don't have enough good stuff to say about this combination of flavors, and I'm so happy that it tastes as good as I was hoping it would.
Lentils with Shiitake Mushrooms and Mustard Vinaigrette
Inspired from here, and here
Notes: Feel free to play around with any of the ingredients. Swap in red lentils if you have 'em, go for any other type of mushrooms depending on whats available at the store, and I think this could be served on any type of salad green that suits your fancy. I'm a bit gaga for frisée so that will always be my first choice, but it can be pretty pricey. The shiitake mushrooms are also on the pricey side, but I loved the distinct flavor they brought to the dish, and they taste oh so good sauteed in butter. But then again, what doesn't?
1/2 cup brown or green lentils
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced 1/4 inch thick
A couple handfuls of greens (frisée, spinach, or mixed greens I think would all be good)
1 tablespoon chopped herbs (parsley or chives work well)
In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together shallot, mustard and vinegar. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified and season with salt and pepper.
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the shiitake mushrooms and season with salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and starting to brown, 5 minutes.
Drain the lentils and mix with a few tablespoons of the mustard vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette if desired.
Toss the greens with a bit of the remaining dressing. Pile greens onto a plate and top with lentils and mushrooms. Sprinkle with chopped herbs.