As a confirmed fungi-phile, I’m always looking for different ways to incorporate them into a dish. Faced with a huge container of brown button mushrooms at my disposal the other day, I made this delicious and mysteriously dark-looking appetizer with minimal effort – although it does need to be made 24 hours ahead to allow the flavors to fully develop.
You might not expect mushrooms to combine brilliantly with fennel seeds, yet they do – the end result packs a lot of deep, aromatic flavor and is substantial enough for a light lunch; dollop some onto your favorite crusty bread; possibly a soft black rye.
Vegetarians will love this and meat-eaters will appreciate the meatiness of the mushrooms.
Use any firm button mushrooms and leave the small ones whole; halve or quarter the larger ones so that they’re all roughly the same size.
MUSHROOMS MARINATED WITH FENNEL & RED WINE
(Serves 4-6 as an appetizer)
4 tablespoons of extra-v olive oil
1 ½ lbs (680g) of button mushrooms, de-stalked and wiped clean
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 med-sized sweet yellow onion, halved then sliced thinly across
4 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of dried basil
2 teaspoons of dried marjoram
1 cup (240ml measure) of chopped, canned Italian tomatoes, drained of their juice
1 cup (240ml) of decent red wine
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I use a 25 yr old balsamic but any good quality will do)
Plenty of chopped flat-leaf parsley and warm crusty bread to serve
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms stirring frequently for 5-6 minutes – add a little salt and pepper and cook for one more minute, stirring well. Transfer them to another bowl with a slotted spoon.
Lower the heat and sauté the onion and chopped garlic in the remaining oil for approx 15 minutes then add the fennel seeds and dried herbs; cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chopped, drained tomatoes, red wine and balsamic vinegar; season to taste with sea salt and black pepper and simmer gently for about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid slightly.
Add the cooked mushrooms and simmer together for another 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if needed and remove from the heat. Allow it to cool to room temp before stirring one more time, then cover and chill for 24 -36 hours.
To serve; bring back to room temp and sprinkle generously with chopped Italian flat leaf parsley – eat with chunks of crusty bread that perhaps you’ve buttered first.