mushroom, hazelnut and thyme salad

this was initially conceived of as a mushroom, hazelnut and thyme salad. but as i wandered through the supermarket i happened, fortuitously upon chestnuts. i have a very long and involved history with the chestnut. for one parisian year, they were my lifeblood. my first point of call in italy was a place known as “the chestnut village”. apparently i had just missed the annual chestnut festival, which invoked images of chestnut strewn streets, chestnut songs and dances, chestnuts falling whimsically (not hazardously) from the sky, chestnuts roasted… all things chestnut – good and great. it was with a profound sadness, and heavy boots that i left the village empty handed. i vowed never to miss an opportunity for chestnuts again. so what choice did i have? sure this salad already had a nut, and a fine nut at that, but could the addition of chestnuts hurt? overwhelm, yes. but hurt, certainly not. and so it was that this salad found its hook. and so it was that this blog became unremittingly beautiful and autumnal.

ingredients

500g mushrooms (whatever you can get. if you are privileged enough to live in the land where the names of mushrooms all end in -ini you will be better off. if you live in the land where “field” and “portabellos” are the best you can do, then let the melancholy pass and accept that that will just have to be good enough)

spinach and rocket

1 shallot finely sliced

1 clove of garlic finely sliced

couple sprigs of thyme

4 tbsp olive oil

1tbsp balsamic vinegar

30g butter

salt and pepper

couple handfuls of hazelnuts toasted and roughly chopped

handful of chestnuts roasted and roughly chopped

first preheat the oven to 180 degrees and toast the hazelnuts. if you are using chestnuts as well the best way i know to roast them is first score the rounded side (so they dont explode…kind of an important step) and put them in a fry pan with a sprinkle of cold water. toss them round every now and then. once they have blackened a bit take them off the stove. peel the skins off. then put the chestnuts into the oven (alongside the hazelnuts if you like that kind of efficient use of space and time) and toast until golden.

then make a dressing using half the shallots, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. mix this to combine and set aside.

in a fry pan put a knob of butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. when the butter starts to foam, throw in your mushrooms. then put in the garlic and some thyme leaves. cook until softened…about 5 minutes. season well with salt and pepper and put in another knob of butter and toss to coat the mushrooms – it makes them shiny. (at this point, i put in the pre-roasted chestnuts in to absorb some of the garlicy, buttery, mushroomy juice…unorthodox but spectacular.)

once your mushrooms are done put your green leaves on a plate and get your ingredients together. toss the rocket in some of the dressing and scatter over some more shallots. pour over the mushrooms and tumble the hazelnuts atop. its autumn and its beautiful.

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3 Responses to “mushroom, hazelnut and thyme salad”


  1. 1 shannon April 26, 2010 at 10:52 am

    garlicy-buttery-mushroomy juice = what angels serve you in heaven.

    “Toss the Rocket” = my new band name.

  2. 2 gma April 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I wish I had your cooking skills – I always say you and Jo should open a restuarant. Many happy retutns of your special day.

  3. 3 Germima May 3, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    what angels indeed…


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