Simply sauteed ‘shrooms make perfect small plate

Paella has prompted the most recent posts to this blog, inspired by outdoor-cooking season and my husband’s recent trip to Spain.

While paella is party food, incorporating a variety of ingredients to feed a crowd, much simpler fare is the Spanish mainstay. Tapas, of course, are small plates, frequently featuring just a single item, prepared without a lot of fuss or extraneous flavors. Just some good-quality olive oil, garlic, a dash of peppers and sprinkle of fresh herbs often are all that’s needed to accent fish or shellfish, seasonal produce or specialties of the region.

Among some stellar examples of tapas are these sautéed mushrooms, offered with a recent story about Spanish food in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, from “The Food of Spain,” by Claudia Roden. Feel free to substitute any mushroom, including cremini, oyster or even late-season morels, if you have them. The method ensures that even common button mushrooms, however, are delectable. Serve this with good, crusty bread.

Tribune News Service photo

Mushrooms With Garlic

1/2 pound button (white) mushrooms

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped or sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or 1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley

Wipe any dirt off the mushrooms. If necessary, trim stems and rinse them briefly under cold water. Cut in half, or in quarters if they are large.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms, garlic and crushed red pepper, if using, and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring and turning mushrooms until they absorb oil and then release it and their juices.

Add the lemon juice or wine, lower heat, and cook until mushrooms are very soft and juices have almost evaporated, so oil is sizzling. In all, cooking may take 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the parsley and serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

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