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Shiitake and Lentil Pilaf

Friday, August 26, 2011

Today's recipe is a vegetarian pilaf as satisfying and rich in flavor as mom's Lamb Pilaf. Imagine the aroma of mushrooms and garlic, the rich taste of lentils and the nuttiness of wild rice punctuated by tiny nuggets of spice stored in the green peppercorns.
You have to pay for this richness, though, by using every one of the four stovetop burners, because mushrooms, lentils, white rice and wild rice all have to be cooked separately (else, you'll get mush). Cook and prep time? About 1 hour 30 minutes.

This recipe is all my own, and I'm proud to present it. Give it a try!

What you need:
1.5 cups white basmanti rice + 2 cups water
1/2 cup wild rice + 1.5 cups water
1 cup brown lentils
~0.7 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms
12 cloves garlic
1/2 medium onion
1 parsnip*
1 tsp marinated green peppercorns**
10 black peppercorns
~3 Tbsp oil, or as needed
salt to taste
fresh basil to serve with (optional)

How to do it:
1. Wash and drain white rice in a medium pot, add 2 cups water and salt to taste. Constantly stirring, bring to boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes while you do other things. Do not open the lid! After 15 minutes remove from heat with cover on, and let stand for 20 minutes. This way you will get rice where all grains are separate, not sticky. In 20 minutes fluff rice with a wooden fork (it works best).
2. Wash and drain wild rice in a small pot, add 1.5 cups water and salt to taste. Cover and set on medium heat. When it boils bring the heat to medium-low. Keep an eye on the rice. If all the water evaporates and the rice is not done yet, pour in a little more water. Wild rice takes a longer time to cook than white rice (about 40 min) and it takes in more water.
3. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to a heavy bottomed deep pan (it has to be large enough to fit the entire pilaf). Drop in the whole peeled garlic cloves and set on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, wash the mushrooms, etc.
4. Wash and drain the lentils in a medium pot. Add plenty of water, salt and set on medium heat. Let the lentils boil gently until done (about 25 minutes). When done, transfer the lentils to a sieve and let drain.
I didn't have 3 medium/small pots, so my lentils cooked in a pan...
5. After the garlic has been cooking for about 15 minutes, add in chopped mushroom stems, throw in the black peppercorns. Finely chop and add in the onion. If at any point the mixture becomes dry and starts to burn, add a little more oil. A little sticking is fine for a stainless steel pan, but burning is not ok.
6. Let this cook until the onion just starts to get golden. Throw in sliced mushrooms, add more oil if necessary in set the heat to medium-high. Saute the mushrooms until almost done (10 minutes?).
7. Add thinly sliced parsnips and green peppercorns, salt to taste and keep sauteing until the parsnips and mushrooms are done.
8. Mix in the lentils and saute gently until any moisture from the lentils has evaporated. Add in wild rice and white rice and mix gently, but thoroughly.
9. Serve with a twig of basil and red wine, and enjoy it!

* There is no parsnip in the picture, because my grocery failed me. Do use it if you have it available, though, because it adds much flavor.
** Green peppercorns were my recent discovery and they are wonderful: not as spicy as black peppercorns and soft, so you can just throw them in without scaring off your guests.

Mix it up!
A recipe is no law. Get inspired and use a different kind of mushrooms, try other types of rice (e.g. brown, red) and different color lentils.

1 comment:

Nadia S. said...

You are becoming a master of cooking instruction. :) The picture is very, very good. My photo experiments are not that successful so far... :(
This recipe is an extended version of white mushrooms pilaf that I am planning to post in winter. I used to make it often back in Russia when we had plenty of quality dry mushrooms in winter. Never tried this recipe with fresh mushrooms, but this post inspired me to. Good job, girl!

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