The Splendid Table and mushroom stew

Today I was driving home from a birthday party, flipping through the radio stations and happened upon a radio show I just adore. It’s called The Splendid Table on NPR. Heard of it?  If not, I highly recommend you tune in on Sunday afternoons.  The host, Lynne Rossetto Kaspar has this magical way of making food come alive through the airways.  I invariably always come home inspired to cook something unique after listening in.

Today was no exception.  The segment I tuned into was about preparing lamb shank and there were seductive descriptions of delicious wine sauce and tender meats falling off the bone.  My mouth was watering. Maybe it was the rain, or the calm and quiet of a Sunday afternoon, but I was totally compelled to cook something delicious and warm.

Well, the only issue was that I didn’t have any leg of lamb handy, nor any other cut of meat ready to roll, and I didn’t want to stop at the store.  I pride myself in being very creative with what I have stocked in the pantry, so I headed home determined to create something mouth watering, unique, and rainy Sunday appropriate.

After thumbing through a couple of my cookbooks (The Professional Chef and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), I settled on a mushroom stew out of the Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone book, by Deborah Madison (side note: Deborah Madison is from Davis, CA, just down the road from my home and I once got to meet her at a book signing. OMG, OMG!).

The recipe did not disappoint. As I write the house is filled with the tantalizing aroma of fresh rosemary, herbs de’ provance, lemon and mushrooms.  Mmmm…..

Of course, in full Rebecca fashion, I tweaked the recipe a bit, so here is my Sunday afternoon creation for you:


1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-1/3″ pieces
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 T fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 T herbs de’ provance
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup safflower oil (or other oil you cook with), divide into 2
1 lb white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 T of left over red pasta sauce (original recipe called for 3 T of tomato paste)
1.5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock)

juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

In a large saucepan add half of the oil.  On medium heat, sautee 3/4 of the onions and carrots with the rosemary, herbs and salt and pepper for about 10-12 minutes.  Set aside.  In the same saucepan, add the remaining onions and the mushrooms and the remaining oil.  Sautee for about 5 minutes, mixing regularly.  Add the original onion/carrot mixture and mix together in the saucepan for 1 minute. Add the pasta sauce or tomato paste and the stock.  Simmer for about 15 min on med-low, stirring occasionally.  Squeeze in the lemon juice and add additional salt or pepper if needed.  Serve with fresh parsley. Pairs well with rice or rustic bread, or couscous.