Sunday, 11 December 2011

Champignons a la grecque

Making mixed starters (or assorted horses dovers(sic) as they are known at ours)  for a family gathering I returned to an old favourite, champignons a la grecque,  a quickly made cooked mushroom salad. Although I think of this dish as something for the summer, it works very well in the winter, the dressing is lightly acid and softly spicy, and the mushrooms have a fleshy firmness, and stay surprisingly pale. Best of all this recipe is wonderfully simple. It's taken from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking, almost verbatim. Having made a swift stab at trying to find a similar recipe in Greek recipes (in translation, of course), and came up with nothing. So, I'll keep looking, out of curiosity. In the meantime it's a lovely little recipe for a tasty little dish.

It's very nice on its own with a piece of toast, or with some hummous, or as part of a mixed hors d'oeuvres. At this time of year it's a nice and light little something to go with roast meat, hot or cold. 

Cooking notes
Resist the temptation to add more liquid, it really isn’t necessary, even though it looks like there isn't much there.
You can substitute two tinned tomatoes or two large spoonfuls of chopped tomatoes for the fresh ones. It may make extra liquid, but it will reduce down.

On the same basis, it’s worth using a nice olive oil, but not necessarily the best, as it'll lose its body once it's boiled to reduce it.


Large bowl of small mushrooms, around 180g (or large ones cut in quarters)
juice of half a lemon
tsp of coriander seeds
1 tsp of peppercorns, cracked
Large pinch of salt
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water
2 peeled and chopped tomatoes

·        Shake off/rub clean the mushrooms
·        Put the mushrooms into a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice and shake gently, and set aside
·        Put all the other ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil, simmer for a couple of minutes
·        Add the mushrooms and any juice in the bottom of the bowl
·        Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for five minutes
·        Take out the mushrooms and set aside back in bowl
·        Boil the liquid, uncovered until it’s  reduced by half, then pour it over the cooked mushrooms, stirring gently to mix

If you like you can sprinkle a teaspoonful of finely chopped parsley over the mushrooms, or a mixture of parsley and fresh coriander. It adds a little something, and looks pretty.

That’s it.

My mixed starters included mushrooms a la grecque, celery remoulade, sliced cooked beetroot and sliced cucumbers, roast veg, green salad. For meat lovers I included some mixed salami.

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