Well…..Spring has definitely not arrived yet! It is COLD. You know, single digit cold which is saying something when you are dealing with the old Fahrenheit temperature scale as we still do. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, it is February for goodness sake. What was I expecting? That dear old groundhog seems to have inspired me to jump the gun a bit on thoughts of Spring. Thank goodness I have this great Winter warmer of a recipe in these Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Lentils. Comforting and tasty, this is just what you want to see on your dinner table. And, since there isn’t any meat to be found in the mix, it is just perfect on a Meatless Monday.
Not only is this dish yummy, but it is so easy to make. You only need one pot, which is a huge mark in its favor. And as it turns out, lentils are actually very good for you. These little legumes are chock full of B vitamins, are low in fat and high in fiber and protein. Indeed, lentil have the second highest ratio of protein to calorie of any of the legumes. They keep you feeling full for longer and can also lower your cholesterol and possibly reduce your risk of heart disease. Good stuff there! All these benefits and they actually taste great! Thick & hearty, this creamy lentil stew will give you the strength to hang in there until these last days of Winter blow themselves out!
Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Lentils
Recipe slightly adapted from: Pinch of Yum
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- half a yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 cups uncooked lentils, rinsed
- 2 medium Yukon potatoes, chopped (about 1 cup total)
- 4 cups chicken broth (plan to add a few more cups as needed while cooking)
- 1 bay leaf
- a few sprigs fresh parsley
- a few springs fresh thyme
- ½ cup half and half
- 5 ounces packed fresh baby spinach
- salt and pepper to taste (be generous with the salt! – but remember not to add it until the lentils have finished cooking)
- olive oil, red wine vinegar and freshly grated parmesan cheese for topping
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Saute for 10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and fragrant. Add the paprika and stir to coat. Next, add in the wine to deglaze the pan – a fancy term for scraping up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add the lentils, potatoes, broth, bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more broth as necessary so the lentils are just barely covered in liquid. When the lentils and potatoes are soft, gently mash the potatoes against the side of the pot with the back of the wooden spoon to thicken the mixture.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems, add the half and half and spinach. Stir to incorporate. At this point you can season with salt and pepper (season, taste, adjust, repeat). If you add the salt prior to the lentils being done, it actually makes them take longer to cook. So you’ll be glad that you waited! Top each bowl with a drizzle of good olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar and a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve with a big hunk of cornbread or crusty rustic bread.
Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Lentils brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)