After my last post about Stuffed Mushrooms, I was in a real mushroom-y mood and went out and bought a big bag of them. I don’t know what I was planning on cooking, but it ended up being this! This dish was also inspired by my boyfriend Luke’s recent visit to a nutritionist—turns out that as an athlete he needs a tonne of protein in his diet (about two volumes’ worth of his palm every day). Our household is neither overly vegetarian nor carnivorous, and we certainly can’t afford to feed him a steak every day, so enter the wonders of complimentary proteins from stage left.
Not only is this recipe chalk full of nutrients and proteins and dietary fibre, but veritably flew out of the fridge into lunchboxes. I half expected the boys to turn down their noses a bit at the sheer health volume of the dish… but I guess it has its share of cheese and butter too! This is would be a very easy recipe to make vegetarian, or your own version of!
Mushroom, Lentil, & Rice Bake
Inspired by Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks Mushroom Casserole Recipe
Makes: 6 servings
Difficulty: Dead easy!
Cooking time: 30 minutes hands-on, 60 minutes baking
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice (with wild rice mixed in)
- 1/2 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
- 6 large white mushrooms (or about 250 g total)
- 2 large handfuls spinach, chopped coarsely
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 tsp each sage and thyme
- 100 g ham, chopped *
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta, drained of excess juices
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- about 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- about 1/2 cup grated parmesean
- salt & pepper, butter
Begin cooking rice according to your usual method. Rinse lentils under tap, and place in warm water and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring and checking occasionally. Remove and drain lentils when they get soft but retain a bit of firmness—rinse under a bit of cool water to stop the cooking. Set rice and lentils aside and allow to cool to room temperature while preparing the other ingredients.
Heat a large frying pan with a bit of butter, and saute the mushrooms (stir frequently) until they release their moisture and begin to darken and turn golden, usually 10-12 minutes. Remove to another bowl. In the same pan with a bit more butter, saute the onion and garlic until soft and also turning golden. Add the spinach and continue to saute until it wilts. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, feta, ricotta, egg, and lemon juice. Add the sage and thyme and a bit of salt and pepper. (Don’t add too much salt, as feta is usually quite salty already.) Mix just until all combined, leaving in some lumps of ricotta and feta.
Preheat your oven to 350 C / 180 C. In a large bowl, combine your cooked rice, lentils, mushrooms, chopped ham, onion and spinach. Add in a few tablespoons of your grated parmesean. Drizzle the liquid over and mix it all together until the grains are covered and everything starts to stick together. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan and place the mixture into the pan, pressing it into the pan slightly to get rid of any large air pockets.
Sprinkle your breadcrumbs over the mixture, enough so they just cover the whole thing. Sprinkle the remaining parmesean on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35-40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until your topping is golden. Serve with a bit more grated parmesean!
* Note: I added ham just because we had it extra in the fridge and it needed to be used up. Feel free to omit it, or add another kind of protein, such as chopped boiled eggs, tofu, or other pre-cooked meat. I don’t recommend using leftovers in this dish because it will itself become leftovers, and you don’t want to eat cooked meat more than about 4 days after cooking it for the first time.