Tray-Baked seems to be the catch phrase of the moment, and has me wondering whether I need to update all of my baked dishes to reflect current fashions. I have a lot of them, they warm the kitchen in Winter and provide needed comfort as well as nourishment in the cold weather. And right now, I think I will stick to the term baked.
Ottolenghi is in on it too, with recipes that are tray baked, but not this one. I have noticed that Yotham will often cook dishes on the stove top when I might throw them in the oven. It gives him more control, I suspect, whereas I am happy to have dishes bubble away in the oven, intensifying flavours, and then pull them out when they smell right. There is something about smell in the kitchen that we don’t often talk about, but it is there, just like sound is a cue to what needs to happen for stove-cooked dishes. It needs stirring, or it is running out of liquid or it needs a drop more oil, or it sounds cooked. All of these things can be identified without looking. We are such smart creatures.
So this recipe is not tray-baked, but it could be. Cook it on the stove top the first time, then make your adjustments and tray bake it next time.
If you are not put off by peeling lots of shallots and garlic cloves, you’re in for a winter treat with this hearty, oniony mushroom stew topped with ricotta. You don’t need much more, though a chunk of sourdough would not go amiss. To help with the peeling, soak the shallots and garlic in water for half an hour.
This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.
The recipe takes an awful lot of small shallots and garlic, but the end result is definitely worth the effort. They are cooked with mushrooms, herbs, spices and PERNOD. There are a number of recipes in Plenty More that use Pernod, so we have overcome our reluctance to purchase it and now have a bottle sitting proudly in our kitchen cupboard.
Sadly, we don’t get the really small shallots in Australia – our shallots are large and hefty. Halve the quantity, or take even 1/3 of the amount, depending on your shallots.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. We are running behind our schedule, so you are on the receiving end of a score of wonderful dishes.
Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Browse all of our Onion dishes and all of our Mushroom recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
Mushrooms, Garlic and Shallots with Lemon Ricotta
2 Tblspn olive oil, plus extra to finish
24 baby shallots, peeled (or substitute 8 – 12 of the larger shallots if that is all that is available)
24 garlic cloves, peeled
2 sprigs of thyme
2 cinnamon sticks
200g Swiss Brown mushrooms, quartered
250g white button mushrooms, quartered
100g shimeji mushrooms
Good pinch of chilli flakes
200ml vegetable stock
sea salt and coarse ground black pepper, to taste
5g tarragon leaves, chopped
10g parsley leaves, chopped
10g mint leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Heat the olive oil and two-thirds of the butter in a large pan and gently sauté the shallots, garlic cloves, thyme and cinnamon for about five minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the brown mushrooms and button mushrooms, stir well so the mushrooms pick up the oil, and cook for a couple of minutes on a medium-high heat. Add the shimeji and chilli flakes, and cook for a further minute.
Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer over a high heat for eight to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has almost disappeared, and the shallots and garlic are cooked through. Season, then pour in the Pernod. Cook for a minute or two to allow the alcohol to evaporate, then stir through the remaining butter and all the chopped herbs.
Mix the ricotta with the lemon zest in a small bowl. Divide the warm mushroom mixture between four plates and top each serving with a quarter of the ricotta mixture. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of black pepper.
recipe notes and alternatives
This is particularly good with roti!
Don’t omit the ricotta, the mushrooms need it to balance their flavours. Wonderful in combination!