The best part of this dish has to be the lentils; adding the red wine during the cooking process lifts them from a hippy staple to something a bit special. Puy lentils are the little dark green ones; they are from France and grow in a region which is known for its volcanic mounds. There are similar lentils and you will be OK with those if you cannot find Puy.
It’s always good to roast more garlic than you need, as you can use it for so many other dishes. Peel it and squeeze out the soft cloves, then mash them with the back of a fork and mix into some mayonnaise. Or try mixing the mashed garlic cloves with some olive oil and a touch of white wine vinegar and drizzle the pungent dressing over a salad of robust leaves.
2 bulbs of garlic (add a couple more if you want to use roast garlic in other recipes)
4 large Portobello mushrooms, wiped clean
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g Puy lentils
150ml red wine, something quite heavy
2 heads of spring greens, finely shredded
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Cut the tops from the bulbs of garlic so that a little of the cloves is exposed, then place each in a small square of foil, big enough to wrap around the bulb. Drizzle in a little olive oil; don’t go crazy, ½ tsp is about enough. Wrap each bulb separately in foil so they look like little tight parcels. Place on a large roasting tray, leaving space for the mushrooms later, then put into the hot oven. Let them cook while you do the next step.
Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and discard. Drizzle a little olive oil in the newly made space and season with salt and pepper.
When the garlic has been in the oven for 15 minutes, add the mushrooms to the roasting tray in the spaces you left earlier. Keep them all gill (underside) uppermost, so all the juices stay in the bowl of the mushroom and don’t spill out on to the tray.
The mushrooms will take 15 minutes, 20 if they are especially large. By this time your garlic will be cooked also.
Take a large saucepan and add the lentils. Add just enough water to cover and place over a medium heat; you want to cook them gently so they don’t break up. As the lentils cook, they will soak up the water. After they have been simmering for 10 minutes, add the wine and finish cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste them to make sure they are cooked – if not, leave for another few minutes, but they won’t be far off. When the lentils are cooked, turn off the heat and set aside in their cooking liquid to allow the red wine more time to soak in. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the oven; they will stay warm while you finish the dish.
Now get on with the last stage. Unwrap the foil from the garlic, peel back the papery skins and, using a teaspoon, pop the soft cloves into a little bowl for a minute.
Put a little olive oil in a saucepan, turn on the heat to high and wait until the oil is very hot, then add the greens. Season with salt and pepper, then stir-fry for a few minutes or until wilted but still with a little crispness.
Finally, to serve, drain the liquid from the lentils, then return them to their cooking pan, add salt and pepper, the roasted garlic and a dash of olive oil, and stir. Place a mound of lentils on each of four warmed plates, then add a helping of greens.
Next place a mushroom on top of the greens – but try to keep any juices in place – and serve.