Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mushrooms à la Grecque – a mayo-free zone

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My Aussie pal, Elena, made an observation about Irish salad/sandwich bars... “What’s with all the mayonnaise!!!!” she asked.
It’s true. It is practically impossible to avoid mayo in Ireland. We even have a county called Mayo.

Cute as a button...

As a broad generalisation, if you walk into a sandwich bar in Ireland your choices are limited: You may be offered tuna... mayonnaise; or egg... mayonnaise; or if you manage not to have mayonnaise in your main filling choice, the server will try and foist some “coleslaw” on you. What is this coleslaw, only shreds of cabbage and carrot drowned in a sea of... mayonnaise. If you manage to parry the coleslaw, they will launch a final offensive, the squeezy mayo bottle already in their hand, and smilingly offer you a squirt to glue the top slice of bread in place.
I have nothing against mayonnaise – the sort that has actually seen a fresh egg yolk or two, a spoonful of Dijon mustard, some garlic and a light olive oil can be unbelieveable good. And I’ll admit that sometimes even Hellman’s is just the thing – but all things in moderation.

We're hiding from the mayonnaise!

One ingredient that shouldn’t even be in the same room as mayonnaise is the mushroom. Yuk. Even thinking about mushrooms in mayo is making me queasy. If I am going to include mushrooms in a salad then here’s how that would go...
For 4 - 6 servings you will need...
5 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons olive oil
150mls passata, or two tinned plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seed, crushed
1 bayleaf
a sprig of thyme (lemon thyme is great if you can get it)
1 clove garlic, crushed
juice and zest of an unwaxed lemon
400g button mushrooms (or larger mushrooms cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leafed parsley

1          Place all the ingredients - except the parsley – in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and bring to simmering. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
2          Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and place in a serving dish. Now turn up the heat and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken for a further 5 minutes or so.
3          Taste the sauce and add salt and or pepper if necessary. Then pour the thickened sauce over the mushrooms and leave to cool to room temperature. Scatter with the parsley before serving. This dish will keep for a few days if refrigerated but is best at room temperature. Served hot, it is also wonderful with grilled meats.

Just add crusty bread
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