Lentils with Wild Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion

Lentils with Wild Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion
Serves 6

Matsutake Mushrooms at Ballard Farmers Market October 2010

Inspiration

Lentils are healthful and have a great texture, but they are a litttle bland. So I add the flavors of rich caramelized onions and musty wild mushrooms. French green lentils cook faster and are more tender than the gray-brown ones, but sometimes they are harder to find.

Hint

If you love the flavor of wild mushrooms as much as I do, this hint will make your day.  Some specialty food companies produce powdered wild mushrooms to flavor sauces, soups, etc. but it is very expensive.  I make my own by grinding packaged dried wild mushrooms into a fine powder.  It stores perfectly in a darkened cupboard and is always ready.

Ingredients

2 cups lentils
2 1/2 quarts water
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 lb. fresh wild mushrooms, brushed for dirt, with stem tips cut off, or 1/4 lb. button or crimini mushrooms plus 1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms
2 tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves, minced, or 1 tsp.
kosher salt to taste

If you are using dried mushrooms, re-hydrate them first, and freeze the mushroom water for stock.

Procedure

  1. Wash lentils in a strainer. Put into large saucepan with the water, bring to a boil, and cook on medium heat until soft (20 minutes; I happen to be partial to slightly mushy lentils). Lentils may be cooked a day ahead, drained, covered, and refrigerated.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, sprinkle the sugar over the bottom of a non-stick pan, put the onion slices over the sugar, and cook on low heat until the onions are caramelized, about 15 minutes.
  3. Tear the wild mushrooms into strips, or slice the button mushrooms. Add the oil into the caramelized onions, then add the mushrooms and herbs in the oil. Saute on medium high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are cooked, about 8 minutes.
  4. When the lentils are cooked, transfer them to the fry pan with a slotted spoon, and mix it all together. Taste and correct seasoning with salt if necessary.
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