Magic mushrooms: Mushrooms in Olive Oil
When the weather is good no one wants to spend time in the kitchen and, when the Boyfriend arrived home from the supermarket the other day with a large box of button mushrooms, I didn’t much feel like frying them or using them in an omelette strognoff or making a mushroom stroganoff or risotto or any one of the thousand and one things I use mushrooms for. I normally prefer the meatier, large flat Portobello mushrooms but, after spending the weeks in Morocco poring over Claudia Roden’s salad recipes in A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, I had an idea for these styrofoam buttons.
I’m not a fan of boiling vegetables – it’s all too easy to overcook them and you lose so much of the flavour in the water – so I’m always on the look out for alternative ways of cooking them and I’ve read a lot about the à la greque technique (in the Greek manner), which is vegetables cooked in a mixture of oil and vinegar, or lemon juice, with seasonings added. Claudia’s variation on this theme is called Mushrooms in Olive Oil.
I threw everything into the pan quickly, simmered it until the mushrooms were tender and then we headed off to a nearby park to sun ourselves. Coming back an hour later, with some fresh crusty bread, the mushrooms made a delicious light supper. The mushrooms were juicy and well-flavoured, there was plenty of dressing to be mopped up and, with a chunk of crumbly cheddar, we were more than happy. A cool supper – or could be a good lunch – for a hot day.
Mushrooms in Olive Oil
Button mushrooms – 250g, cleaned and quartered
Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
Water – 1 tablespoon
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Lemon – 1, squeezed and zested
Dried thyme – ½ teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
Garlic – 1 clove, sliced thinly
Heat the oil and water in a deep frying pan and stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice and zest, dried thyme and sliced garlic. Bring to the boil and add the mushrooms, simmer gently until tender – 7 to 10 minutes – pour into a serving dish and allow to cool.
Taste and season before serving, if necessary. The intensity of the seasonings may drop as the dish cools. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a light meal, with crusty bread and cheese to follow.
Adapted from Claudia Roden’s A New Book of Middle Eastern Food.