Mushroom season is here! Each year we look forward to September and October when we go foraging for wild mushrooms in our local forests. It’s almost like a treasure hunt but you need to be cautious and know what you’re doing. We stick to a few species of mushrooms which we know well, and leave the rest to the more adventurous or foolhardy. Plump ceps, delicate winter chanterelles, spine hedgehog mushrooms…these are my favourites.
If you don’t feel comfortable picking wild mushrooms, the markets usually have a range of different species. For those that do intend to forage, there is an unwritten etiquette that every respectable mushroom hunter needs to obey. Rule number one is that your best mushrooming spots are a well guarded secret. Anyone roaming the woods doing something other than jogging or walking their dog is being looked at suspiciously. If you do encounter another forager – it’s fine to admire their mushrooms, but don’t ask where they found them and don’t tell where you found yours!
All mushrooms should be cooked in order for our bodies to absorb the good nutritional value they have to offer. Several species, particularly of wild mushrooms, can cause stomach upsets when eaten raw and heat generally unlocks more favours and nutrients and makes it more digestible.
My favourite way to eat mushrooms is to sauté them with a generous amount of butter and garlic, and a good handful of parsley. They are then eaten with crusty bread or toast. This simple dish really makes the most of the mushrooms.
This recipe is incredibly flexible and forgiving.
- mushrooms of your choice (around 300g is a good amount for two slices of bread)
- butter, ghee or olive oil
- good quality bread
- 2 garlic cloves
- handful of parsley
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Gently clean the mushrooms with a brush and trim off any woody stems. You can also use damp paper towel. Try and avoid washing mushrooms if possible as they tend to absorb water and lose their firmness. Cut those that are very big, leave the small ones whole.
- In a large frying pan, heat ghee, butter or oil. When it’s hot, throw in the mushrooms. Make sure that they are not crowded in the pan, otherwise you’ll end up with a soggy mess. Toss occasionally for 3-4 minutes, then add crushed garlic, season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms have browned nicely and the liquid has evaporated.
- Turn off the heat and add the chopped parsley.
- Pile the mushrooms on top of your bread or a piece of toast and serve immediately.
- Optionally, you can first sauté a shallot before adding the mushrooms or replace the parsley with thyme or rosemary. Perhaps a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra kick? A little bit of cream or crème fraîche at the end?
- Oh, and don’t forget a glass of chilled white wine to go with your dish. It’s a match made in heaven!
I hope you’ll enjoy this simple dish as much as we do.