Forequarter Sprouted Lentil with Fried Oyster Mushrooms
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Restaurant Re-creation: Forequarter’s Sprouted Lentils with Fried Oyster Mushrooms, and Salted Lime Curd.

Every once in a while a dish I eat at a restaurant intrigues me so much I feel compelled to make it at home. Is it just me, or do other people do that, too? Forequarter, a Madison, WI restaurant opened by Underground Food Collective, makes an amazing appetizer– fried shiitake and oyster mushrooms with sprouted lentils, pickled serranos, balsamic reduction & salted lime curd. It is one of those dishes I just had to try to make myself.

On a recent visit to Forequarter with a friend, and upon recommendation from the waitress, we ordered the sprouted lentil appetizer. It was a great recommendation. A small, rectangular wood board was embellished with a smear of the lime curd, topped with the sprouted lentils, crispy fried mushrooms, tart-sweet balsamic reduction and pickled peppers.

As I munched I thought ‘all of these ingredients in and of themselves are not hard to make, and are readily available. I have to try to make this at home.’ Totally quoting myself.

Planning ahead is key when you are adding sprouts to a dish. Intent upon making the dish on a Friday, I started sprouting lentils on the preceding Monday. Sprouting is easy! I placed about 1/2 cup of dried green lentils in a canning jar, covered the top with cheese cloth secured with a rubber band, and rinsed the sprouts twice a day. I left them near a window. By Thursday, they were perfect, so I stuck them in the fridge overnight.

Curd is also quite easy to make, and a great way to use up all of the eggs we are getting right now from our chickens. I made a lemon curd, since I was out of limes. What I couldn’t figure out was how to make it more savory, or salted, since curd is often more sweet than salty. I’m not sure how they do it at Forequarter (I guess I’ll have to go investigate again. Date night, husband?) but I added a bit of rice vinegar to the curd to give it a little tang, zing and zip.

Now I was ready to put my investigative powers to the test. And yes, my culinary prowess, too. I fried up some oyster mushrooms from Herb n’ Oyster, with just a touch of salt, until the were golden. Meanwhile in a small saucepan I reduced balsamic vinegar. Which to me means heat until it is thick. If it is more complicated than that, someone please tell me. I didn’t have pickled serranos, but I had candied jalapenos that I made last summer, so I used those instead.

The result was great! It wasn’t exactly like Forequarter’s–my mushrooms didn’t get as crispy, and I’m still not sure I had the curd right–but it was a wonderful and surprising dish. Give it a try. Do you have any favorite restaurant dishes you have recreated at home?

Sprouted Lentils with Fried Oyster Mushrooms, Lemon Curd, Candied Jalapenos and Balsamic Reduction


1 cup sprouted lentils


4 oz oyster or mix oyster and shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup balsamic, reduced to 4 tbsp

1 heaping tbsp pickled or candied peppers

4 tbsp lemon curd* recipe below

3 tsp rice vinegar


Fry mushrooms in oil and pinch of salt until golden and crispy

Mix lemon curd with rice vinegar

Swoosh lemon curd on plate

Spread lentils around in a beautiful way

Top with mushrooms and peppers

Drizzle balsamic reduction in an aesthetic fashion

Add more curd-dressing to taste.


**Lime Curd:

adapted from this recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (I used lemon where recipe calls for lime)

1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel

Pinch of salt

5 large egg yolks


Place fine strainer over medium glass bowl. Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat. Add sugar, lime juice, lime peel, and salt; whisk to blend. Add yolks and whisk until smooth. Return saucepan to medium heat and whisk constantly until curd thickens slightly and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across and instant-read thermometer inserted into curd registers 165°F (do not boil), 10 to 12 minutes (mixture will not be as thick as traditional curd but will resemble slightly thickened sauce). Pour curd into prepared strainer; discard solids in strainer. Place plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd and chill overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Sprouted lentils and shrooms-3