Northside SF  

October '09

The Kitchenless Cook
Vegetarian options
By Bill Knutson

LentilsAs you could probably tell from my previous columns, I am an avowed carnivore. Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables, but think of them more as side dishes. And unfortunately for most vegetarians, that is what they often get when eating at a carnivore’s house. I always feel bad when seeing a vegetarian making do with a salad. So when my guests are vegetarians, I make sure they have several choices, and usually include a heartier dish made with grains.
Here are two of my favorites, which will satisfy your vegan guests as well.


French Lentils with Roasted Mushrooms
(Serves 4 to 6)

1           large yellow onion, diced
3           cloves garlic, chopped
4           tablespoons olive oil, divided
1           tablespoon Herbs de Provençe, divided
1           cup French lentils (Umbrian lentils will work also)
4           cups vegetable broth
1           teaspoon salt
1           teaspoon black pepper
1           pound assorted wild mushrooms (if you are shopping at the grocery store, use crimini,              portabella and shiitake)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of oil and ½ tablespoon of Herbs de Provençe. Heat for a few minutes.
Add lentils and stir thoroughly to coat with oil. Heat to temperature, about two minutes. Add enough broth to cover the lentils, then add salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly, adding more broth as needed until lentils are soft and all broth is absorbed. This should take about an hour. (French lentils are smaller and denser than the larger, more common green lentils and will still have a bit of bite to them.)
While lentils cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Chop mushrooms into ½-inch chunks. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add remaining ½ tablespoon Herbs de Provençe and mushrooms, and cook, stirring regularly until mushrooms are just barely cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Move skillet to oven and roast mushrooms until they start to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and stir mushrooms into lentils.
Serve and enjoy.

Butternut Squash Risotto

(Serves 4 to 6)

1           medium butternut squash, about 1½ pounds
4           tablespoons olive oil, divided
4           shallots, chopped
2           cloves garlic, chopped
2           teaspoons dried savory leaves
1           teaspoon salt
1           teaspoon white pepper
1½        cups Arborio rice
4           cups vegetable broth
             Water, if necessary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel squash, remove seeds, and cut squash into ¾-inch chunks. Place in a shallow baking dish
and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake until tender and edges start to caramelize, about 30 to
40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat broth in a small saucepan over medium heat to a simmer.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, savory leaves, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly until shallots are translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add rice, stir to coat with oil, and cook for about 1 minute.
Using a ladle, add broth to cover rice completely. Stir frequently, adding broth as needed to continually keep rice moist. After 20 minutes, taste rice before adding more broth. It is done when it is soft and creamy and no longer crunchy. If you run out of broth before the rice is cooked, use water.
Stir squash and any remaining oil from the baking dish into the risotto.
Serve and enjoy.

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