We are all working to stay happy, healthy and somewhat sane during this time. It is the middle of the coronavirus pandemic as I write this draft. We are social-distancing, a new word, and we s-d even in our own homes. It is a scary time that is changing the world in many large and small ways. Oh, so many countries have been devastated with so many deaths, my heart is broken for you. Who knows what is to come ….
As it happens, I happen to have a couple of flat mushrooms in the fridge, barley in the pantry and feta from the Afghan shop. There is parsley and thyme in the garden, so this seems to be the perfect use for the mushrooms. I also have wine! It is a rare occurrence, but is perfect for this dish. The mushrooms are slowly braised in the oven in wine, stock, butter and thyme, to become achingly soft, fragrant and highly flavoursome. The stuffing is barley, feta, preserved lemon, garlic and herbs. It is an unusual stuffing for mushrooms, but one that is divine and perfect against the soft ‘shrooms. They mended my heart a little, just for a moment.
This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Ottolenghi. I serendipitously came across it while browsing last evening. We are always free to massage his recipes into a shape that fits what we have at hand, but this time it needed little alteration. I toyed with the idea of using goat cheese for feta, and it would have worked, but used feta instead. I did chop up the mushroom stems and add them to the barley as it cooked. No waste, no want, always my mantra. This recipe doesn’t appear to be on the Guardian website, so you will have to check his books for the original.
Similar recipes include Toasted Barley and Pistachio Pilaf, Sweet Barley and Ginger Poached Rhubarb, Roasted Mushrooms with Burrata, Pan Fried Mushrooms in Butter, Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic, Black Barley with Mushrooms, and Mushrooms in Terracotta.