Bruschetta con Funghi (Creamy Mushrooms on Farmhouse Bread)

This is one of the earliest recipes I ever mastered, but I’ve been so busy cooking new stuff that I have neglected it for years. Foolish me, this is absolutely sensational.

You can use pretty much any mushrooms for this. I used a mix of oyster mushrooms and bog-standard supermarket chestnut mushrooms, but it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference to the final dish.

My plan for dinner last night was for this sauce to do double-duty for two – as a starter on toasted sourdough rubbed with a garlic clove, and then with pasta stirred through the remaining sauce alongside a large bowl of peppery rocket. It was a valuable learning experience.

On sourdough the sauce is rich, deep and luscious, spiked with the warmth of raw garlic. After that, the pasta was delicious – but it lacked the drama that we had just experienced. Had we just had it with the pasta we would have been swooning, but the bruschette was an impossible act to follow. The lesson here is: make the textures and flavours of each course substantially different from one another. Variations on a theme are all very well, but in a meal it doesn’t always work.

One final word though… do try this sauce with pasta, you won’t be disappointed.

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RECIPE serves 4 as a starter

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

500g mixed mushrooms, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

a squeeze of lemon juice

150ml of single cream

a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

a splash of balsamic vinegar


METHOD

Heat the oil over a medium heat and saute the onion, mushrooms and garlic for 5 to 10 minutes with some salt and pepper until softened, the liquor has come out of the mushrooms and is mostly cooked off. Shortly before you think it is ready, squeeze some lemon juice into the pan and stir through – lemon juice accentuates the flavours of the mushrooms, but you don’t need much, it should be undetectable in the final dish.

Meanwhile, lightly toast some rustic bread, sourdough is perfect here. Rub the surface of each slice of bread with a raw garlic clove.

Add the cream to the mushrooms and heat gently until it is hot. Stop short of the boiling point, your cream may curdle. Stir in the fresh parsley and a splash of balsamic vinegar – if you’re happier measuring then a use 1/2 tsp balsamic – then taste and adjust the seasoning and add more balsamic in tiny amounts until it is perfect.

Serve spooned over the toasted bread, with a bowl of undressed rocket alongside it.

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