I was excited to make this one. I woke up thinking about it one morning. The truth is with this recipe that I set out with a goal of trying to create that rich flavour one gets in a beef stew. I wasn’t trying to make beef stew without beef or replace the beef. I just wanted a hearty tasty, I mean really tasty warming feel good stew.
There were all types of mushrooms at the market but I decided to go with the 2 from Quebec and not the ones from Poland or Korea. These were cremini and portobello. I try to eat local whenever possible. Why eat food that comes the other side of the world when with a little effort you can eat food from much closer or even local? If we all took this into consideration more often we could make a positive impact on our earth and food system. Something to think about.
So I have to admit that until relatively recently i was one of those people who wasn’t very fond of mushrooms. yes, one of those. I know. I was a picky eater as a kid and it has taken me years to slowly change how I feel about so many amazing foods. Foe example, I used t think I didn’t like hummus or even guacamole for that matter. Some of my favourite things to eat now. If I changed then so can everyone else, trust me. I have most definitely come around to mushrooms. When cooked properly, all I can say is WOW. A whole other world to explore. Mushrooms were step 1 of building flavour for my stew.
Pot barley. More nutritious than pearled barley. Get it straight. Barley is a warming grain great for cold winter days and warm winter stews like this one.
Lentils. So many different types to choose from. All so good. I felt these brown lentils would go well with the flavour I was hoping to create.
After browning the mushrooms the next layer of flavour comes from the veggies and herbs. I chose onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, and garlic with bay leaves and fresh thyme.
Next comes some red wine. Taking the flavour to another level. Feel free to have a glass yourself and share one with someone who will appreciate it.
Now for the whole recipe.
Lentil Mushroom Barley Spinach Stew Ingredients
2 onions, chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 parsnips, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 big tomatoes, cut in chunks
4 cups of baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
1 cup pot barley, rinsed
400-500 g mushrooms, chopped
1 cup mixed dried mushrooms
2 cups boiling water, to make broth with dried mushrooms
1 cup red wine
2 litres of organic vegetable broth
extra water as needed (you will likely have to add more water as the barley absorbs a lot)
salt and pepper to taste (will also depend on sodium content of your broth)
1. In a bowl pour 2 cups of boiling water over your dried mushrooms. Sauté sliced mushrooms on medium with a little olive oil and salt & pepper. Either do them in batches or use 2 pans as not to crowd the mushrooms. They brown much better this way. Once mushrooms are nice and brown and are smelling amazing you can transfer them to a bowl. by this time your mushroom broth should be ready so strain your re-hydrated mushrooms keeping the broth. Chop up your dried/re-hydrated mushrooms finely.
2. Add a little olive oil to a big pot or dutch oven and add your onions, celery, carrots, parsnips, garlic, dried/re-hydrated mushrooms, fresh thyme and bay leaves. I like to add a few twists of freshly ground salt and pepper at this point. Cook for 6-7 minutes on medium until veggies have softened.
3. Add mushrooms back to the pot and mix everything together. Cook for 2-3 minutes like this.
4. Add your red wine and stir around until wine reduces. This will happen really quickly. (see video above)
5. Add barley, tomatoes, vegetable broth. Strain your mushroom broth again leaving any residue behind then add it to the pot. Mix everything together, reduce heat to med-lo and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Add your lentils to the pot. Simmer for another 30 mins until barley are lentils are cooked. Make sure to check on your stew every little bit to stir it and check the water level. Barley soaks up a lot of water. I had to add more water during the cooking process. Just add a little at a time. Don’t want to end up with a soup, or maybe you do.
7. Once your barley and lentils are cooked remove from heat and add your chopped spinach. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste by adding salt and pepper if you want. Feel free to add more than I did. One comment I received was more greens. Spinach wilts to almost nothing so don’t be afraid. Load up.
Time to enjoy this hearty incredibly flavourful stew.
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