Monday, July 26, 2010

Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales

After a long night at the airport on Friday which ended at 6 am Saturday with the disappointing cancellation of a long-anticipated vacation to visit my family, I wanted to make a comforting meal for dinner. We deserved it. I pulled out a recipe I'd tried only once before: Mushroom, lentil and wild rice timbales from the lovely Susan Voisin at Fat Free Vegan. I wanted to work on it again to see if I could perfect it because I have it in my head that it might be the star of next Thanksgiving's menu. Judging by the results I'm thinking we have a winner.

Cooking vegan, I naturally find myself making countless stir-fries and ethnic dishes. While I love a good pile of spicy vegetables and tofu over rice as much as the next girl (probably more), there are times when I just want something I can cut with a knife and serve with gravy. Call me old fashioned, but some of my best memories from childhood involve my grandmother's pot roast or my mom's turkey. The best thing about these timbales, in my opinion, is their earthy mushroom flavor and firm, chewy texture. I try to avoid fake meat products as much as possible (although I'm sometimes guilty of eating an unreasonable number of Smart Bacon, tomato, lettuce and avocado sandwiches in a week), and this mixture of mushrooms, lentils, wild rice along with onion, bread, silken tofu and a whole slew of the classic spices create a hearty, filling entree that reminds me of Sunday dinner with the family.

You can find the complete recipe on Susan Voisin's exceptional blog, so I won't post it here. For a dish that looks so elegant, it's surprisingly simple. Once they are in the oven, you have plenty of time to make side dishes and gravy. I will say that I prefer to go light on the blending. I like my timbales a little chunky, so beware of over-processing. After preparing the mixture, spoon it into lightly oiled ramekins and bake for about 50 minutes in a water bath. The one thing I still don't have down quite right is the cooking time. I'm scared to overcook these guys, but I think next time I'll leave them in just slightly longer. As you can see, when I took them out the tops look utterly dried out. Just trust in it, you want them to look that way.

While the timbales were cooking, I went ahead and made some roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach with garlic. I also made a significant batch of my mushroom gravy. The one I make is similar to the one posted on Susan's website with this recipe but with a few changes I've developed along the way. That recipe is for another post later on, but trust my when I say that once you taste a good mushroom gravy, you will never ever crave that nasty white stuff made with lard that they serve on biscuits. I promise. When I go through the trouble of making gravy (I have never liked making gravy - all that whisking and thickening gets very boring), I tend to make a lot of it. Pretty much everything tastes good with gravy on it, so you can never have too much. In fact, I asked J today if he thought I should freeze the leftover gravy now that all the timbales have been eaten up and we don't really have anything normally eaten with gravy in the house. He immediately said no way...he wanted to eat the rest on a piece of bread. Not sure what I think of that idea, but more power to him.

All in all, this dish was a great success and I would highly recommend it. Not exactly the typical July meal, but hey, in San Francisco, July is really winter so I think it's okay. This meal was warm and cozy and comforting to combat the cold, cloudy weather. J also gave it high marks, despite the fact that he keeps referring to the timbales as hockey pucks. I guess I'll take that at a compliment, so long as he's saying "are there any more of those little hockey pucks in the fridge? I want one for lunch."


  1. This was totally amazing when we had it over Christmas break- tasted kind of like meatloaf, but way healthier. And the gravy was totally delicious too. Now I'm going to have to buy some ramekins, and get to cooking.

  2. Do you think it would work to use a blender instead of a food processor?