Mushrooms and quail's eggs

    45 min

    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.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 200 ml (7 fl oz) vegetable stock
    • 115 g (4 oz) shiitake mushrooms
    • 115 g (4 oz) oyster mushrooms
    • 115 g (4 oz) chanterelles
    • 2 tbsp marsala or medium sherry
    • 140 g (5 oz) baby leeks, or 1 medium leek, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) lengths
    • 1 tbsp truffle or walnut oil
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 12 quail's eggs
    • 1 Oak Leaf lettuce, separated into leaves
    • 85 g (3 oz) mixed fresh salad herbs, such as salad burnet, rocket, sorrel and flat-leaf parsley
    • pepper

    Prep:45min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. Put the shallots, garlic, crushed coriander seeds and bay leaf in a large saucepan. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, thickly slice the shiitake mushrooms, and break the oyster mushrooms and chanterelles into smaller pieces – leave small ones whole.
    3. Add the marsala or sherry and the shiitake mushrooms to the stock. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 3 minutes. Add the chanterelles and oyster mushrooms, and cook for a further 1–2 minutes or until just tender.
    4. Remove the mushrooms using a draining spoon, with any bits of shallot or coriander clinging to them, and transfer to a salad bowl.
    5. Add the leeks to the stock and simmer for 3–4 minutes or until tender. Remove with a draining spoon and add to the mushrooms.
    6. Rapidly boil the stock for about 5 minutes or until syrupy and reduced to about 5 tbsp. Strain the liquid through a very fine sieve into a jug (this will remove any bits of grit you may have missed when cleaning the mushrooms). Whisk in the oil, lemon juice and pepper to taste. Pour 3 tbsp of this dressing over the mushrooms and leeks and toss gently. Leave to cool.
    7. Meanwhile, cook the quail's eggs in boiling water for 1–2 minutes, depending on whether you prefer them soft or medium boiled. Plunge into cold water to cool, then peel.
    8. Put the lettuce leaves and herbs in a mixing bowl. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and toss to coat. Arrange the salad leaves on one side of 4 plates and the mushroom mixture on the other side. Cut the quail's eggs in half and place 6 halves on each plate. Serve at once.

    Plus point

    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.

    Another idea

    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.

    Each serving provides

    B1, B2, B6, C, E, niacin * A, folate, copper, iron * calcium, potassium

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