Monday, January 31, 2011

Neapolitan Pasta with Lentils serves 6
12 ounces green lentils
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
small bunch parsley, minced
3-4 canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 pound small tubular pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the lentils in a pot with an inch or so of water to cover, and cook them slowly, covered, over a low flame for about 2 hours. In the meantime bring a second pot of water to a slow boil. When they're done (they'll be soft but not mushy) remove as much water as you can from the pot without removing the lentils, and replace it with the fresh boiling water. Add the oil, garlic (grated would be ideal), tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper, and cook slowly for another half hour. Cook the pasta until it is half done separately, then drain it and add it to the lentil mixture, together with the parsley. By the time everything is done the soup should be almost dry.

Mushroom, Lentil, and Wild Rice Timbales Makes 6 servings.
These timbales also make a delicious appetizer spread on crackers.
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large slices bread (may be gluten-free)
2 cups mushrooms, quartered (about 10 large)
1/2 cup silken tofu (light, firm or extra-firm Mori-Nu, preferred)
3 cloves garlic, quartered
1 tablespoon sherry
2 tablespoons water
1 cup lentils, cooked
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
3 tablespoons cornstarch, or arrowroot
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup wild rice, cooked
salt and freshly ground black pepper
sliced mushrooms for garnish (optional)
Make ahead: 1 cup cooked lentils (from about 1/2 cup dried) and 1 cup wild rice (about 1/2 cup before cooking)
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 6 ramekins with canola oil or cooking spray and have ready a large baking pan that will hold them (9×13-inch should work). Place one nice-looking mushroom slice in the bottom of each ramekin, if desired.
Saute the onion in a non-stick pan until it begins to brown. Set aside.
Place the bread in a food processor and pulse until it turns to crumbs. Add the mushrooms, tofu, garlic, sherry, and water and blend until fairly smooth. Add the lentils and process again until smooth. Add the tomato paste, herbs, cornstarch, and salt and process until well-blended. Add the onions to the processor and pulse to include them but do not over-process (you want them to retain some texture.)
Scrape the contents of the food processor into a bowl and add the cooked wild rice. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Divide the mixture among the oiled ramekins and smooth the tops with a spoon. Set the ramekins in the large baking dish and add hot water to the dish, taking care not to splash it into the ramekins.
Bake, uncovered, until tops are brown and crusty and middles seem moderately firm when pressed with a finger–about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges and invert the ramekins onto serving plates. Serve with your favorite mushroom gravy (or see mine below).
Note: If you plan to serve these later, keep the timbales in the ramekins, covered, and reheat in their water bath for about 10 minutes. Or (it’s heresy to say this, but) microwave each one for about a minute before serving.
Impromptu Mushroom Gravy
My mushroom gravy is always an ad lib affair; I don’t think I ever make it the same way twice. Here’s the basic recipe, but the amounts of herbs should be adjusted as necessary. This time I kept them light so that they didn’t compete with the timbales’ seasoning.
1/2 onion, minced
10 mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sherry (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons unbleached flour (substitute with arrowroot for gluten-free)
1/4 cup plain soymilk
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium-sized non-stick saucepan, saute the onion until light brown, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of water, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Add the vegetable broth, herbs, nutritional yeast, sherry, and soy sauce. In a bowl, whisk or blend (with a hand blender) the soymilk and flour together until smooth. Add it to the saucepan and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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