Posts Tagged ‘antipasti’


Who could resist a heavily discounted package of enoki mushrooms?  And yet it comes with a dilemma: what to do with the contents…

enoki wrapped in pancetta with chives

I don’t do stir-fry, which puts 90% of recipe suggestions out of the question,  I don’t subscribe to that (largely north american) practice of throwing a number of costly ingredients together in a bowl and calling it a salad, and neither am I keen on mushrooms in their raw state;  options diminishing by the nano-second.   But I dislike wasting food more than anything:  time to get my imagination into gear.

Inspiration wafted up from the pages of  Lorenza’s Antipasti. This fab charity shop find delivers masses of recipes but also, and what I love most of all in any decent cookbook, interesting and informative introductions to its several sections: lots of text!  It’s beautifully organised: Part I is a pair of essays, Types of Antipasti and The Antipasto Pantry, while Parts II and III are Finger Food and Fork Food respectively, both sub-divided, and Part IV is Preserves and Basics.

I used the method for rotolini – or involtini – and wrapped a few enoki with chives in half-slices of pancetta and baked them for about 15 minutes at Gas 4-ish (375F, 190C, moderate-to-hot) to crisp: simple, genius!

photo of enoki and pancetta rollsA delightful nibble, with the appearance – and texture even – of some strange sea-creature; a hitherto unknown species of squid, perhaps?  Definitely to be repeated; this time I seasoned with nutmeg and ground Espelette pepper but next time, furthering the seafood idea, a sprinkle of dashi-no-moto and some shredded nori could be killer-delish: watch this space…

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Buma shimeji
No, that’s not a random collection of vowels and consonants: while meandering along the vegetable aisle in Waitrose I spied these exotic Buna shimeji, also known as Brown Beech mushrooms, at a delightfully exotic discount. Nothing boosts my culinary confidence like finding a food bargain, and with the summery weather in mind I fancied trying them as an antipasto: turns out it’s the easiest thing in the world and to have such a luxurious treat on hand makes me want to dance a little jig.

Mushroom antipasto, or funghi sott’olio*

    Buna shimeji

  • 2 packs Buna Shimeji mushrooms
  • 100 ml white wine vinegar plus 200 ml water
  • tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced fine
  • 1 chilli (fresh or dried – whatever you have to hand)
  • 2 bay leaves, a sprig of thyme
  • olive oil to cover

First cut away the solid base holding them together, then break off the individual mushrooms with your fingers; rinse and drain.  Bring the vinegar and water to boil in a non-reactive pan, add the salt, garlic, chilli (crumbled or sliced or not – depending on your tastebuds and your chilli!), bay leaves and thyme, then tip in the mushrooms.  Simmer gently for about 5 minutes.  Test one for texture after just a couple of minutes as they shouldn’t overcook; al dente, per favore.

Drain and spread them out to dry on a clean tea towel, giving it a little shake every now and then to coax things along, but don’t squeeze or press.  Tip them with the flavourings into a sterilised jar which they just about fill and cover with a little olive oil (*sott’olio is Italian for “under oil”).  Keep in the fridge and serve at room temperature with a scattering of parsley – if you have it – and good crusty bread: I wouldn’t expect these to keep more than a week, but they’ll be finished long before that, no doubt.

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