IN LIGHT OF US ALL STAYING HOME AT THE MOMENT, I WANTED TO OPEN UP THE PANTRY AND GET THE PARTY STARTED WITH SOME RIFFS ON RECIPES THAT YOU CAN CREATE WITH WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE KITCHEN, OR COULD EASILY SOURCE FROM YOUR LOCAL CORNERSHOP.
This is one of my favourite ways with mushrooms; so earthy and satisfying – just what we need right now.
I first served them when I was working in France where we had the most incredible mushrooms at the market. There were two vegetarians in the household, and one day I served these for lunch with crushed new potatoes and a fresh salad as the veggie option. The pesto is a revelation; I would always make a double batch and stir the leftovers through grain salads or as a bruschetta topping. The dish became such a hit that the group requested mushrooms for all. Come to think of it, they’re so packed with umami moreishness, I would probably choose these mushrooms over meat most days too.
This is a base recipe for you to pin all the fun bits onto. Serve on toast with a poached egg for a wholesome meal. Cheesus Christ, why not top the pesto with Taleggio before roasting or simply blitz some grated pecorino into your pesto. So many options team, have fun and stay home.
ROASTED MUSHROOMS WITH PESTO
Serves Four as a side dish
4 portobello mushrooms, brushed (or roughly 300g of whatever you can find)
4 tsp butter
Few sprigs thyme (or oregano/tarragon would be beautiful)
100g parsley, blanched and refreshed
Whole bulb smoked garlic, slow roasted (regular garlic also possible)
70g pumpkin seeds, toasted (or any nuts/seeds)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or more, to taste)
Small saucepan, lined baking sheet, blender or magi mix
- Preheat the oven to 180/160F/Gas 5. Pop the mushrooms on a baking sheet and dot with butter. Add some fresh thyme and roast for 8 minutes
- Make your dressing. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin, this is quite satisfying – enjoy. You’ll need about 8 cloves, keep any leftovers and rub on toast for next-level garlic bread. Reserve a handful of the pumpkin seeds to garnish, and blitz all the ingredients in a blender. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, I also tend to add more vinager at this stage – it just depends on the garlic flavour. So taste again, adjust and blitz to combine
- Remove the mushrooms from the oven and discard any of the thyme sprigs. Generously spoon the pesto on top and roast for a further 6 minutes
- Serve on a big sharing plate and garnish with the remaining toasted seeds
- Blanch and refresh is to cook a herb or vegetable in salted boiling water. Herbs literally just need a quick flash, about 10 seconds. Remove with tongs and rinse under cold water to keep the vivacious green colour
- To slow roast garlic, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Slice the top off the bulb of garlic, only the very top – this makes it easy to squeeze the garlic out when its softened. Place the garlic on a piece of tinfoil and drizzle with rapeseed oil. Bake for 30 minutes
- Mushrooms are like sponges, for this reason don’t wash them as they’ll soak up all the water. To clean them, brush them with some kitchen paper. If you’re working with smaller mushrooms, still par-roast them but for half the time
- For the pesto, greens-wise, you could use basil or rocket, or even a bit of spinach to bulk it out. And for the protein, I use seeds making it a good nut-free alternative but you could use any nuts; almonds and walnuts work particularly well