barley-stuffed portobello mushrooms with goats curd

mushrooms are another thing which david is not keen on, so, again i took advantage of him being away when i made these for barley-stuffed mushrooms, a version of an ottolenghi recipe.

i served this as part of a picnic lunch for friends, with salad, crusty ciabatta and a selection of dips – roasted tomato & red pepper, chickpea and beetroot. the dips were all skye gyngell recipes and sadly were not that great, apart from the beetroot.

the mushrooms on the other hand were wonderful – the earthy flavour of the mushroom contrasted really well with the light lemony goats curd and the herbs and lemons (fresh and preserved) which lifted the barley’s gentle comforting flavours. i had some of the barley mix leftover as well as some mushroom gravy. i think this will be a good leftovers supper for one with a green salad.

ottolenghi’s portobello mushrooms with pearl barley and preserved lemon (serves 6)

100g unsalted butter

15 sprigs thyme (abby note:i used oregano)

6  portobello mushrooms

180ml white wine

250 ml vegetable stock

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

salt & freshly ground black pepper

for the barley:

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

750ml vegetable stock

110g pearl barley*

1 quarter of a preserved lemon, flesh removed and skin finely chopped

juice of half a lemon (optional, not part of the ottolenghi recipe)

50 gram feta (abby note: i used fresh goats curd)

1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 teaspoons of thyme leaves (abby note: i used oregano leaves)

2 tablespoons purple basil sprouts (abby note: i used sprigs of purple basil leaves)

1 tablespoon olive oil (abby note: i omitted this)

first cook the barley – heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. add the stock and bring to the boil. stir in the barley, reduce the heat then cover and simmer for 1 hour, until the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is tender (abby note: my barley  was ready before all the liquid was absorbed so i had to take the lid off and boil away the excess).

meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180c. take a large tray and grease it heavily with two thirds of the butter. scatter the sprigs of thyme (or oregano) over and place the mushrooms on top, stem-side up. pour over the wine and stock and scatter the sliced garlic. dot the remaining butter on the mushrooms and season. cover the tray with foil and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. leave them in their cooking juices until you are ready to serve.

when the barley is done, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the preserved lemon (and fresh lemon juice if using, feta (i didn’t stir in my goats curd, serving it on top of the barley-filled mushrooms instead) and herbs. taste and season if necessary. place each mushroom on a serving plate, scoop the barley on top and spoon some of the mushroom juices over. garnish with the (goats curd and) purple basil then drizzle with olive oil (optional).

* i had plenty of cooked barley leftover so would make less if i didn’t want this to happen again, perhaps using 75g instead of 110g