Just such and easy and flavoursome number! The kind of dish you could serve as a main course or starter at a dinner party (aka when you’re trying to look a bit flash in the kitchen) and really not go to any great trouble.
One of the main reasons for me popping this recipe on the BHK is the wonderful Vegan Recipe Hour, happening soon over on Twitter. A great place for vegan cooking inspiration and tonight the theme is……well……MUSHROOMS!
They look lovely and pack some intense flavours; mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted nuts, pesto, these are some of the bedrocks of richness and savoury flavours in a vegan cooks locker. Combined……POW! I’d also like to mention that this is most definitely healthy.
One of the five basic tastes and a word that sounds like something Vic and Bob would exclaim (with loads of reverb) mid ‘Shooting Stars’. If you are not British, this may take some explaining…..this clip might help.
Umami is a savoury taste in things like mushrooms, nuts, fermented foods like miso and tamari, yeast extract, seaweed and sun dried tomatoes, they’re packed with that mysterious and delicious flavour that acts like catnip to our tastebuds. We know we love it!
The history of umami can be found here and it is of course the source of MSG. Its natures MSG, which means all the crazy good flavour without the unpleasant side effects. Many rich and flavourful plant based meals use something umami as a base.
BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!
Some of you may know that I cook at a glorious retreat centre in Snowdonia, Trigonos. (Queue a quick plug for the retreat and workshop I’m running soon – ‘Discovering Vegan Cooking’). I have started to make these mushrooms for lunch there and they always go down a treat. Greater than the sum of their preparation skills and time. The sign of a winning restaurant dish, especially when you’re working in the kitchen! This is a dish I choose when I’m giving myself a bit of a break. Normally, if you eat at Trigonos, you’ll be joining me on a voyage into vegan cooking. I have a rough idea what I’ll be cooking but I generally see what is good from the land that day (we have our own organic farm) and what’s looking great from out veg supplier. Then I play with food and enjoy myself. One of the most wonderful occupations imaginable.
Now. Lets make something delicious.
The mushrooms will shrink quite a bit during cooking. Make sure you get big ones, or double up per person. I have found that most folk like a second mushroom after they’ve tasted the first.
Portobellos are full of flavour and texture but field mushrooms are also fine (and a little cheaper).
I always try to make my own pesto, but at this time of year, fresh leafy herbs are not exactly sprouting from the earth. You could use a good jar of vegan pesto, you’ll find this in most supermarkets and especially health food shops or similar.
The Bits – For 4
4 large mushrooms (peeled and the end of stalks trimmed off)
2 big handfuls sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped)
2 big handfuls basil leaves
1/2 lemon (zest)
3 large cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
1 handful cashews (best when soaked in warm water for an hour before)
50ml+ olive oil
2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes
Sea Salt (to taste)
10-12 tbs green pesto (of your choice)
Mixing in the sun dried tomatoes and lemon (zest) – same quantities as above
2 handfuls walnuts (roughly chopped)
Fresh green herbs – parsley, thyme, basil
Preheat an oven 180oc.
Peel the mushrooms, lightly oil a baking tray, sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Bake the mushrooms for 15-20 minutes. They should be soft but still nice and succulent.
Place all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor (except the olive oil) and pulse until a chunky pesto is formed whilst drizzling in the oil. Or, just mix the tomatoes and lemon zest into your shop bought pesto. Taste and season with salt if needed. Adding more nooch (nutritional yeast flakes) will up the cheesiness. A good thing.
Spoon roughly 2-3 tbs of the pesto over each mushroom and sprinkle with walnuts. Pop back into the oven for 10 minutes to warm them through. Thats it!
Sprinkle over some herbs and serve soon after.
Here are some dishes I’ve served recently to accompany these mushrooms: