Have you ever noticed how mushrooms cut thickly and browned are a completely different experience to eat than when sliced thin and sauteed as normal? Instead of cooking all of the water out of them, the surface simply gets seared and the interior retains a chewy texture. Delicious.
For today's dish, I paired those mushrooms with French green lentils, seasoned with olive oil, sherry vinegar and smoked paprika for a Spanish accent. You can use lentils de puy, or the black Beluga lentils as well. Just don't use standard big green or brown lentils. They will turn to mush.
The lentils are garnished with a little salad of cherry tomatoes and basil. Especially with earthy, brown plates, I love to finish with something bright and fresh to add a little visual interest and lighten the flavors.
With just a good baguette this would make a nice light and healthy meal, or a smaller portion could be the first course of something more elaborate.
Spanish Lentils and Mushrooms
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
- 1 small white onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups French green lentils, picked over and washed
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (such as pimenton dulce)
- sherry vinegar
- 1 pound crimini mushrooms, quartered lengthwise
- 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 big leaves of basil, chiffonade
- black pepper
- In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic with a good glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the lentils and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender. Add the smoked paprika. Season with salt, sherry vinegar, and more smoked paprika to taste. I like there to be just an edge of vinegary sourness without it being overpowering.
- Meanwhile, In a very hot saute pan, fry the mushrooms with another glug of olive oil, turning occasionally. Try to get them to brown well on most sides. Season with salt.
- Toss the cherry tomatoes and basil with a little olive oil, sherry vinegar, and salt.
- To serve, divide the lentils into bowls. Top with the mushrooms, and top that with the salad. Give the whole thing a grind of black pepper and maybe another little dusting of smoked paprika