Lentils and Mushrooms Over Creamy Polenta and Quick Pickled Onions


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There is something about a creamy bowl of polenta topped with deeply savory mushrooms that gets me every time. Add some toothsome lentils and sweet and caramelized red onions and I’m in umami heaven.

I am not vegan (actually quite far from it) but I did eat a vegan diet for one month last February (please save your applause). It was incredibly difficult for me but it was also the best I’ve ever felt. My head was clear, I had lots of energy and I genuinely felt good and not tired all the time (not such an easy feat with a toddler in tow).

As much as I know how beneficial to the planet (and myself) a vegan diet is, at this point in my life I try to eat everything in moderation. Having meals like this on hand that will satisfy my desire to eat a more plant-based diet while satisfying my family’s desire to eat something hearty and delicious is a win win.

No matter your lifestyle or eating habits, make these lentils. They are cozy, comforting, budget friendly and delicious! What more could you want in a 30 minute dinner?


Recipe and Headnote Molly Adams

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  • Recipe Card
Prep time 20mins
Cook time 40mins
Serves or Makes: 4

Recipe Card

For the Lentils and Mushrooms Over Creamy Polenta


  • 1 cup green French lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups polenta
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Black peppercorns, freshly ground to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, divided
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • Simply Organic Crushed Red Pepper, to taste
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup Simply Organic Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary
  • Pickled red onions, optional, for serving (recipe below)

For the Lentils and Mushrooms Over Creamy Polenta


  • Step 1

    Place rinsed lentils in a medium size pot with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until tender. If any liquid remains, drain and discard it.

  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, slowly whisk in polenta and cook, stirring, for about 30 minutes or until very thick and creamy.

  • Step 3

    While the lentils and polenta cook, heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of vegan butter in a wide, heavy bottomed sauté pan or skillet. Add the red onion and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until very tender and beginning the caramelized. Add mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released all of their moisture and are golden brown.

  • Step 4

    Add tomato paste and toss to coat. Add mirin, tamari and lemon juice and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Let cook for about 5 minutes.

  • Step 5

    Remove mushrooms from heat and stir in cooked lentils and baby arugula. Toss until the arugula has wilted.

  • Step 6

    Once the polenta is cooked, stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, almond milk, nutritional yeast and chopped rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  • Step 7

    To serve, divide the polenta among 4 bowls and top with mushrooms and pickled onions (if desired).

For the Quick Pickled Onions


  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Quick Pickled Onions

  • Step 1

    Add all ingredients to a pint sized mason jar. Add lid and tightly seal. Shake until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using. Leftover onions can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.