A dish that’s so tasty you won’t miss the meat!
The more I learn about preparing vegan food, the more I am genuinely learning to love it. I’ll probably always be an omnivore but it feels great to serve up appealing meatless meals a few times each week and I am finding that quite often, good vegan recipes are so delicious and satisfying that I honestly don’t miss the meat one bit. I developed this recipe for my carnivorous husband, who has a lifelong love of Shepherd’s Pie. His overwhelmingly positive reaction to these lentil, walnut and vegetable stuffed Portobellos made me really happy and I suspect this dish is one I’ll be making again and again. I think it would even be a fun appetizer, in cremini mushrooms (which are, in fact, baby Portobellos). Look for nicely rounded Portobellos (almost bowl-shaped) which will hold a generous amount of filling. I’ve offered some make-ahead tips below as well. This dish is delightful on its own, or served with a side salad.
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) grated carrot
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup (160 mL) dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups (500 mL) vegetable stock
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons / 10 mL) fresh thyme
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) frozen green peas
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 medium sized white potatoes
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) coarse salt
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) vegan butter (use regular butter if not making vegan version)
- 4 large, rounded Portobello mushrooms
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) thinly sliced green onion tops (for garnish)
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm olive oil then sauté onions and carrots, stirring often, until softened (about 3 minutes). Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more, stirring often.
- Add lentils, stock, thyme, walnuts and tomato paste. Stir to blend then cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so the mixture is just simmering then cook until lentils are tender (about 35 – 40 minutes). The mixture should still appear quite moist; if it’s dry, add a tablespoon or three of stock or water.
- At this point the mixture can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours. Add 3 – 4 tablespoons (45 – 60 mL) of stock or water when you are ready to proceed with stuffing the mushrooms later as they lentils will have absorbed all the excess moisture.
- Add frozen peas and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While filling is cooking, peel the potatoes and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces.
- Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover. Add salt then put a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly while maintaining a gentle boil and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain off the water and mash the potatoes thoroughly, adding butter and blending it well.
- While potatoes are cooking, remove the stems from the Portobellos and scrape out a little of the interior to make a deeper cavity for the filling (a grapefruit spoon is great for this), being careful not to break or pierce the mushroom.
- Spoon the lentil filling into the mushrooms, distributing evenly between all four.
- Top with potato mixture, taking care to thoroughly cover the lentil mixture so it does not dry out during baking.
- Place filled Portobellos on a small baking sheet. At this point they can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400F. Bake stuffed mushrooms for 20 – 25 minutes, until filling is bubbling hot and potatoes are nicely browned on top.
- Garnish with green onions and serve hot.
Makes 4 servings.