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Large Portabella mushrooms with beans and puy lentils

This is a recipe for my beloved Lydia who I can’t wait to see soon. Enjoy your veggie-ventures!

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Vegetarian cooking is fun and offers itself to great experimentation and variation. This is a hearty but easily digestible recipe that makes it easier to fast, reduce your meat intake or move to a meat free lifestyle. For me there have been as many variations as the times I have cooked it by using different cheeses, fillings, spices…I wonder what you could do to change it? Let me know won’t you?

This meal is easy to prepare and is yet another one of my recipes that stacks up different ingredients in a tower of flavours and textures. It combines a crusty top with a soft, flavoursome filling in a firm but pre-grilled mushroom base. Serve with a crunchy sunflower and pumpkin seed salad dressed in balsamic and honey vinaigrette for a great light meal or starter.

You can replace the mushrooms with half pre-grilled peppers. And if you don’t like using pre-cooked pulses in cans you can cook your own beans and lentils.

Ingredients

1 onion finely chopped
1 red or yellow pepper sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or mashed
6-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 can precooked cannellini beans (drained weight about 200gr)
1 can precooked puy lentils (drained weight about 200gr)
200gr baby spinach leaves
1 pack soft Welsh cheese (125gr)

8 large portabella mushrooms

150-200gr parmesan cheese
A handful of breadcrumbs
1 small bunch of basil
Mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Mixed salad leaves

Preparation

Sauté the onion with a pinch of salt in a generous splash of olive oil for two to five minutes on low heat.

Add and sauté the pepper for another two minutes.

Then add the cherry tomatoes and after another couple of minutes the garlic.

Add another pinch of salt (or not) and a bit of pepper.

Stir fry for another couple of minutes or until all ingredients are softened.

Drain your precooked beans and puy lentils well and add to the mixture, stirring and frying until all juices evaporate and the mixture binds.

Add the spinach leaves and stir, cover, stir on low heat until they wither in the mixture. Depending on your preference you can add more spinach.

Turn the hob off and crumble the small pack of soft Welsh cheese in the mixture last. If you cannot get hold of soft Welsh cheese use feta or other salty white cheese instead. This dish tastes better with goat’s or ewe’s cheese though!

Stir until the whole mixture is creamed by the cheese.

Put the mixture aside.

Pick large and firm mushrooms as they shrink in size when grilled.

Remove the stem from the bottom of the mushroom by cutting flat with a knife.

Peel the skin of the mushroom if you wish but if your mushrooms are really fresh dry clean well before grilling.

Brush with a little oil and either grill on the hob in a non stick pan turning regularly or under the grill for ten minutes. Your aim is to pre cook the mushroom so that they are soft enough to eat but not to make them so soft as to break.

Prepare your breadcrumb topping by blitzing the cubed parmesan cheese, chopped basil and the breadcrumbs in a kitchen chopper (mixer) until crumbly but not fine.

Whilst assembling the dish preheat the grill until quite hot.

Place the mushrooms top down in a baking tray alongside each other.

Separate the bean and lentil mixture evenly between the mushrooms.

Top with the parmesan breadcrumb.

Grill for ten minutes maximum.

Serve the dish with seasonal fresh salad leaves, in balsamic and honey vinaigrette and topped with toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

For the vinaigrette use :one unit of balsamic, two of olive oil, and half of honey as well as a pinch or two of salt (depending on the size of your salad and your units). Put all ingredients in a small jar, close the lid firmly and shake joyfully whilst dancing to a favourite tune!

Toast the seeds in a pan in which you have melted a tiny bit of butter, just enough to coat your non stick pan. Naughty but nice!

Inspired by Hannah Briggs and Dan Green.

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