Appalachia Appalachian Food

Looks Horrible…Tastes Great


Have you ever cooked something that looked like it ought to be throwed out, but tasted great? I’m going to share exactly that kind of recipe with you today.

A few months back I told you about the new John C. Campbell Folk School Cookbook. Over the weekend, I was flipping through it and decided to try the recipe “Lentils with Greens and Mushrooms.” I had to alter the recipe slightly because I didn’t have a couple of things on hand. Even with the changes, it was a hit with everyone in the house so I’m sure I’ll be making it often in the future.

Lentils with Greens and Mushrooms

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 pound mushrooms sliced
  • 1/3 cup white wine (I used white grape juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 cups fresh greens (kale, chard or spinach) (I forgot to pick up greens so I had to leave them out)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Simmer water, lentils, and bay leaf for 20-25 minutes. Drain well.

Add olive oil to large pan. Cook onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add butter or olive oil to pan and cook mushrooms about five minutes. My mushrooms seemed especially watery so I drained some of the liquid off as I cooked them.

Add white wine or white grape juice to pan along with salt and cook until the liquid evaporates.

Add lentils and vegetables to mushrooms and cook till warmed through. Throw in greens (if using) and cook till wilted.

Stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.


As you can see from the photo, its not the prettiest dish you ever saw. But I’m telling you its very tasty.

The John C. Campbell Folk School cookbook contains over 200 recipes. Many are tried and true dishes that have been served for years in the folk school’s dining hall and at their annual Fall Festival. Appalachian classics and treats made for holidays and special events are also included. Other recipes came from far distant lands and found a home at the folk school in one of the many cooking class offerings.

The books are available in the craft shop at the folk school as well as online. If you’re interested in picking up your own copy go here.


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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 22, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    I don’t know lentils. I worked in the wholesale grocery business for almost 40 years but can’t remember ever seeing lentils. We sold every exotic food you could think of from artichoke to applebutter. Lime to liverwurst. Don’t remember lentils! Morels to muscadines. Can’t recall lentils! Do they have another name?

    • Reply
      October 31, 2018 at 10:38 am

      I assure you, they exist. They really don’t have another name in English, although they’re one of the legumes that are a major part of the varied vegetarian cuisine in India, and are sold under that name in Indian markets. You want to look in the dried bean area of the store, for small round, probably greenish brown or brown disks (think roughly navy bean size) that are shaped kind of like a lens (how they got their name).

      (Speaking of muscadines I had only had then once until recently and I was trying to associate the memory with concord grapes and being puzzled when nothing resembled the memory…)

  • Reply
    October 22, 2018 at 9:21 am

    If I had the cookbook and wanted to try all the recipes, I’m sure this one would be last on the list. Grape juice is about the only ingredient I like.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Yum, this sounds wonderful! It made me smile to think about lentils. My Daddy HATED the smell of lentils cooking! When I would make them, he would walk in the front door and say, “Are you cookin’ lentils?” I never could get him to eat them much, but I enjoy them. I know what you mean, sometimes the most awful-looking dishes tastes the best!

  • Reply
    Donna W.
    October 22, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Split pea soup is an ugly dish my husband and I love.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 22, 2018 at 6:38 am

    Tip, that sounds like something I need to try, I like funky things. I would for sure have to add the greens, I’m a real fan of greens! Mushrooms are always watery, the water would be fine when the greens are added.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2018 at 5:37 am

    I trust ya, but your right it does look like something left in the refrigerator to long.

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