Mushroom Lentil Ragout with Grilled Polenta and Sweet Pea Pesto


















I’m on vacation this week. I have been vacation-less since September, and any small break I’ve gotten has been for Jewish holidays, which I promise are hardly vacation. The problem is that last week was Passover, and basically everyone I know took vacation last week, leaving me out in the cold. So I’m spending my week seeing all the doctors I might possibly need to see and being outside as much as humanly possible. Oh, and I’m taking full advantage of my parents’ kitchen and cooking up a storm.

But even though this vacation seems very un-vacation-y, I can still treat myself. I figured now would be the perfect time to feature a fancy, resort-like recipe. In collaboration with Wynn Las Vegas resorts, I did exactly that. You see, Wynn Las Vegas recently launched their own recipes for vegan food options in their various restaurants. I love that vegan diets are being accommodated everywhere these days, and vegans (and vegetarians) aren’t constrained to the side dishes and salads. I decided to make my own spin on the Mushroom-Polenta Cake with lentil ragout and sweet pea sauce from Switch Steak. I plated it up all fancy and I pretended that I was treating myself to dinner at a resort (instead of, you know, dinner in the backyard with my dad).

Now, I have to admit, this recipe is freaking awesome. I mean, I’m not usually one to toot my own horn. I like my food, I think it’s pretty tasty, and I would certainly never share a recipe that didn’t work. But this recipe…Oh my. It’s on the same level of my Creamy Tomato Pasta. I just can’t get enough of it! It is, without a doubt, Vegas-worthy.

The mushroom and lentil ragout is hearty and filling, with just a hint of spice. The grilled polenta rounds have a subtle smoke to them. The sweet pea and mint pesto just lightens everything up and perfectly fit the beautiful spring weather yesterday. Get a little bit of everything in one bite and you will be in heaven – vacation resort heaven.
This is my Vegas recipe. What’s yours?

Mushroom Lentil Ragout with Grilled Polenta and Sweet Pea Pesto
Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry red wine
10 oz. mushrooms
1.5 cups cooked lentils
1.5 cups chopped tomatoes (I used heirloom cherry tomatoes since I had them, but any kind will work)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 dash nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 log of prepared polenta (I used Trader Joe’s brand here)
Enough olive oil to brush each side of the rounds, or spray the oil directly onto the pan if you have oil in a spritzer
Sweet Pea Mint Pesto:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for at least one hour and drained
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Large handful of mint leaves
1 clove garlic
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, wait 10-15 seconds, then add the onions. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to sweat (3 minutes). Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, then pour in the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half.
2. Add in the mushrooms and saute for another 3-5 minutes, until they begin to release their liquid. Next add in the lentils, tomatoes, broth, thyme, nutmeg, and red pepper flakes. Mix it all together, cover, and let cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.


3. While the ragout cooks down, heat up a grill pan on high heat for the polenta (you could also pan sear or bake the polenta if you prefer that). Take the polenta log and cut it in half. Cut each half in half, then cut each of these pieces into three. You should have 12 slices total. Grill each piece for about 8-10 minutes on the first side, flip, and grill for another 5 on the second. If the polenta round is not willing to move when you try to flip it, it’s not ready yet. Try again in another minute. Set the finished polenta rounds aside.
4. While the polenta rounds are grilling, pull together the pesto. Place just the cashews in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are relatively creamy. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse to combine, then blend until the pesto is smooth (or as smooth as you want it to be). Adjust salt and pepper to taste
5. To serve, place three polenta rounds on each plate. Cover those with one quarter of the ragout. Finally, add a nice, large dollop of the pesto to the plate. Serve immediately.

2 Responses to Mushroom Lentil Ragout with Grilled Polenta and Sweet Pea Pesto

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