Many ‘wild’ mushrooms are now cultivated, so they are readily available. Here, full-flavoured shiitake mushrooms are gently poached with more delicate chanterelles and oyster mushrooms, then tossed with salad herbs and topped with softly poached quail's eggs. Try this delicious starter salad with warm walnut bread.
There are more than 2500 varieties of mushrooms grown worldwide, and many supermarkets are now stocking some of the more exotic varieties such as cep or porcini, chanterelle, oyster and shiitake. All varieties of mushroom are low in fat and calories, but provide useful amounts of the B vitamins niacin, B6 and folate. They are also a good source of copper, which aids the absorption of iron and potassium and thus helps to regulate blood pressure.
For a delicious marinated mushroom and fennel salad, cut 140 g (5 oz) portabella or chestnut mushrooms into thick wedges and place in a bowl with 140 g (5 oz) whole baby button mushrooms, a thinly sliced bulb of fennel and 2 bay leaves. Crush a clove of garlic and 4 juniper berries in a mortar with a pestle. Mix with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp walnut oil, 2 tsp white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the mushrooms and fennel and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Put 30 g (1 oz) rocket leaves in a blender with 75 ml (2½ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil and blend together until smooth. Strain the oil through a fine sieve – it will now be a vibrant green colour. Drizzle 1 tbsp of the rocket oil over the mushrooms, then scatter on croutons (see Some More Ideas, Chicken Caesar salad, page 39). Serve with chunks of warm ciabatta bread. Store the remaining rocket oil in a screw-top jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Use it with chicken, fish or tomato salads.
B1, B2, B6, C, E, niacin * A, folate, copper, iron * calcium, potassium