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Walnut, French Lentil And Herb Gravy


A creamy, cream-free sauce full of umami flavor. I make it to go with double-crusted savory pies for holidays, but it would also be nice with Portobello "steaks," or tossed with pasta and sautéed chard. If you replace the butter with olive oil, this would be vegan.

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  • Makes about 3 1/2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup French lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage or 3 or 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Splash of white wine
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • Dash tamari (a sauce made with fermented soybeans, similar to soy sauce, but with a smoother, less-salty flavor; you can substitute soy sauce)
  • Dash balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and plenty of pepper


Adapted from


Step 1

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat, warm the olive oil and the bay leaves. Add the lentils, stir and cook until they sizzle, then add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, until the lentils are quite tender. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. When it starts to get foamy and golden, add the shallot, garlic and herbs. Let them cook for a minute or two until they start to brown. Add the flour and whisk it in until it's thoroughly mixed. Let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the walnuts and keep stirring until everything is coated. Add the white wine and cook for a few minutes until it's thick and syrupy. Add the nutmeg, tamari and the lentils in their broth, stirring everything together so that there are absolutely no lumps.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for about half an hour. Stir frequently, but not constantly. Add water as the sauce thickens. You want it to be the consistency of heavy cream at the end.

Add a dash of balsamic and salt, and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for salt and add plenty of pepper.

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