Last night’s dinner: Mushroom, chestnut and cavolo nero casserole

Casserole? Well, you could call it a stew. I was intending to cook this (mostly) in the oven, as you should with a casserole, but I didn’t. I was hungry. I cooked it on the hob. It was quicker. It was still good. There.

First, in a deep, wide saucepan or frying pan I fried a sliced onion in a little olive oil until it softened. I then added three sticks of celery, cut into 1-inch pieces. Then I added lots of mushrooms – a supermarket tub each of button, chestnut and oyster varieties, the larger ones being halved or even quartered. Don’t try and get them all the same size however; it’s nice to have them varied. Cook the mushrooms on a medium heat for 15 minutes while they release heir juices and then soak them back up again.

As the mushrooms are cooking, boil a cupful of green lentils (not Puy) until tender in a small pan of vegetable stock, with a bay leaf. When they have finished cooking, drain, removing the bay leaf, but retaining a little of the stock.

Now, take 150g or so of vacuum-packed or tinned, cooked chestnuts and chop them coarsely. Add to the mushroom mixture. Then add the lentils. Then pour in 100ml of sour cream and stir well. If the mixture could do with a little more liquid, top up with any reserved stock.

From here you can continue to cook on the hob for another 15 minutes. While you’re doing so, blanche a few handfuls of cavolo nero or savoy cabbage in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water.

When the mushrooms finish cooking, add the cavolo nero and another 100ml of sour cream. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Before serving, add a handful of chopped chives and a handful of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Serve with crusty bread and, if you like, an extra dollop of cream.

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