How to Roast Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
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I’ll be the first to confess that elaborate mushrooms scare me a bit. The otherworldliness of enokis, the meatiness of King Trumpet stalks, the sponge-like texture of Lion’s Manes.
But I’ve been served Hen of the …

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Smoky Ragout of Beluga Lentils

Submitted by on November 25, 2012 – 5:49 pmNo Comment

Where did November go?

I didn’t realize how long it’d been since I last posted, and I will spare you the standard blogger refrain about how busy I’ve been, etc..  Despite my absence, I have actually spent a ton of time in the kitchen this month!  Mostly, I’ve been baking up a storm for the kiddos and working on Thanksgiving recipes.

This year, I contributed a vegetarian Ragoût of Beluga Lentils to the communal Thanksgiving table, inspired by an ever-so snooty recipe from the James Beard House.  I label it snooty because a) it’s called a “ragoût,” a French word with both a circumflex over the “u” for no apparent reason AND a silent “t”; and b) because it uses fancy fennel instead of workaday, middle class celery in the base, which we can call a “mirepoix” since we are so very snooty.   Despite the pretense, I chose it because it employs two of my favorite ingredients: beluga lentils (the caviar of lentils) and smoked paprika.  As I’ve blogged previously, smoky spices– like chipotle powder and smoked paprika– make an excellent vegetarian stand-in for bacon in recipes, lending them a depth of flavor that can be hard to generate in vegetarian dishes.

We road-tested this recipe with the kids for lunch on Thanksgiving afternoon– beluga lentils and wild rice, followed by dessert of pumpkin paletas.  The lentils were a huge hit with my adventurous eater.  They were a meh with my fruitarian.  So be it.

Recipe: Smoky Ragout of Beluga Lentils (Vegan)

Adapted from the James Beard House.  Recipe as written serves 2 (generously) as a side dish.  Multiply as needed.

  • 1 TBSP olive or canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced fennel bulb (yes, you can absolutely substitute celery here)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (or more/less to taste)
  • 1/2 cup beluga lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil.  Add the garlic, fennel, carrots, shallots, and thyme. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly softened.
  2. Add the smoked paprika, and saute for another minute until vegetables are well coated and fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, or until heated through.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If the liquid evaporates before the lentils are fully cooked, add water in small increments.
  5. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.


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