The best season is upon us my friends – bowl season.
Savoury stews, spicy curries, slurpable soups and warm grain bowls – this is what food heaven looks like to me.
On that note – are you acquainted with your slow cooker? Not long ago, I rolled my eyes at the device – who has the patience to cook soup over 8 long hours. And they are mostly for meat-centric dishes right?
Not so fast.
This slow cooker mushroom + lentil stew really benefits from the long long bath in the crockpot. The lentils open up, revealing their creamy, buttery side, and mushrooms stay nicely meaty. Flavours? Consider them mingled.
The whole idea for this recipe came from a braised short rib meal I made the week prior. I loved the stick-to-your-ribs quality of the shredded meat, suspended in an umami-packed sauce. With that fond taste memory in mind, I did my best to create a plant-based version using roughly torn King oyster mushrooms, cremini, and traditional “beef stew” aromatics like carrots, garlic and thyme.
Whether you’re eating a vegan diet, or dabbling in the occasionally meat-free meal, this dish has enough cozy to last you through till March.
Why It’s Delicious:
- Torn King Oyster mushrooms mimic the texture of pulled meat.
- Lentils add protein and body to the stew, creating a creamy home for all of the flavour.
- Aromatics like carrots, garlic, onion and tomato paste evoke memories of rich wintery beef stew.
PS- I was kindly gifted a T-fal ActiCook & Stir and used it to make this recipe. I have included instructions on how to use it in the method. However- any crockpot or slow cooker will do!
- 3/4 cup dry brown lentils
- 2 cups chopped cremini mushrooms, cut into wedges
- 1 medium sized onion, small diced
- 1 cup oyster mushroom, torn into thin strips with your hands
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small carrot, peeled and small diced
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 5 cups mushroom/vegetable broth
- Splash of red wine (or 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar)
- 2-3 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp butter (optional but adds richness, can use oil or vegan butter)
- 4-5 springs fresh thyme, tied together in a bundle.
- fresh chives, thinly sliced for serving.
- To serve: over blue cheese polenta (as pictured) or mashed potatoes, or with some toasty bread.
- In a large pot, add mushrooms, garlic, onion, carrot and 1 tbsp butter or oil. Cook for 6-8 min, over medium heat, until slightly softened. *(If using a T-fal ActiCook & Stir, use the saute function for 10 minutes) Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer veggies to a slow cooker. Add vegetable broth, lentils, thyme bundle, tamari, wine and tomato paste. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours, until the lentils are creamy and tender and have absorbed all of the broth. **(if using a T-fal ActiCook & Stir, use the Stew function and set to 80 degrees and cook for 4-6 hours)
- Discard thyme bundle. Taste and season if necessary. Add more broth, extra salt, butter or vinegar to balance flavours.
- Serve on top of mashed potatoes, polenta or with a piece of crusty bread. Top with fresh chives and parsley. The stew freezes exceptionally well!