Mushroom and Feta over Salad

I do seem to be on a mushroom kick, not just the vegetarian kick. Growing up, the only mushroom I was really exposed to was the button mushroom. Not to knock it, because that type is fine, but there really is such a variety to choose from. Different “meatiness” and flavours which can make dishes exciting. We were at the library a few weeks ago and my husband found a cookery book by Yotam Ottolenghi called Ottolenghi Simple. I love his approach to food. His recipe featuring mushroom and feta caught my eye so here is my version. It’s not too different from his though I adjusted the amounts of the ingredients a little here and there. I also added garlic because I love it paired with mushrooms and thyme.

When making this dish, try to find as many different varieties of mushrooms as you can. It should celebrate them. I was unlucky as when I went there wasn’t any variety! So strange as I can usually find about 5 types.

Technique for Mushroom and Feta

I think I found the smallest shiitake in the world!

Prep the ingredients prior to starting to cook, including the bulger wheat, as it does not take long to cook. The original recipe calls for adding salt and pepper to the bulger before soaking but I decided not to do that. I’m a huge lover of salt but I knew there would be plenty of that flavour from the feta and I seasoned the mushrooms as they cooked.

In a skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook the onions for several minutes until they soften and begin to caramelise. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin seeds. Stir and keep an eye on the seeds. You don’t want them to burn but you do want them to brown. Remove the onion and seeds, set aside.

If need be, add a bit more olive oil and then sauté the mushrooms. Once they begin to brown add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes then add another 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed and the thyme. Again cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. This will reduce and absorb quite quickly. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the onions, and let warm through, about a minute. Spoon over mixed lettuce and garnish with more fresh dill. Serve immediately.

We really enjoyed this dish and I’m going to add this as a choice for the food bowls we do for lunch. Hopefully I’ll have better choice with the mushrooms.

Mushroom and Feta

Mushrooms flavoured with thyme and dill, accompanied by feta over lettuce.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword Mushroom and Feta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup bulger wheat
  • boiling water, enough to cover the bulger wheat
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced red onion
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1-1 1/2 cups sliced mixed mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups mixed lettuce

Instructions

  1. Place the bulger wheat into a bowl and cover with boiling water until the water is an inch over the wheat. The bulger wheat will expand by quite a bit. Keep covered by a tea towel until all the water is absorbed.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a skillet and add the onion. Cook until it starts to soften and caramelise. Should take about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed. Cook, careful not to burn, until they are nicely browned. This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set aside.

  3. If needed, add a bit more olive oil. Heat on high and add the mushrooms. Because the olive oil has a low smoke point, keep an eye on it and lower to medium-high if it starts to catch. When the mushrooms start to brown, add the garlic. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for a few minutes.

  4. Add the thyme and the rest of the cumin seeds. Stir well and again cook for a few minutes.

  5. Add the balsamic vinegar while stirring. This will reduce and absorb quickly. Add all the other ingredients including the onion mixture. Allow it to warm through.

  6. To serve, divide the lettuce between 2 plates, top with the mushroom mixture and garnish with fresh dill.

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Stuffed Cucumbers and If It Looks Like a Duck and Walks Like a Duck…

I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination but there are times when the military or government are so blatant it beggars belief.  About 2pm on Wednesday afternoon there was a massive boom that shook all the homes over several towns and it lasted just a second or so.  Because it snowed the night before a lot of us thought snow was falling off our roofs but as we only got an inch and most of it melted by then we were very quickly puzzled about what the hell just happened.  It felt like a truck hit the house.

So of course a lot of people were circling their homes and businesses looking for damage.  What was it?  A sonic boom.  Which is illegal over populated areas.  So the MA National Guard are saying it was just normal jet noise.  The only ones that seem to believe that are the people at the MA National Guard.  It isn’t the fact it was a sonic boom that bothers me, though given how it freaked out our dogs I’m ok without the booms, it’s the fact they are lying about it.  I mean, give over people.  Guinness was very needy for about 24 hours.  Murphy was just fine in his armchair of choice.

Fortunately this past Sunday was much quieter.  We got the family together to celebrate a few birthdays and we did a sort of tapas lunch.  Loads of flavours but not a ton of cooking required.  My mum loves peaches so we did up some peach bellinis which was fun and went down very easily!

I came across a recipe for cucumber feta rolls that looked interesting and I did a variation of those for Sunday.

I decided not to make them into rolls as it would be less messy and I wouldn’t have to worry about toothpicks making their way to the floor then into the dogs.  So I sliced the cucumber into 3/4″ or so slices then hollowed out the top.

Stuffed cucumber 4 2014

My husband found some locally made feta cheese that was quite nice.  Crumble about 4oz and add a few dollops of plain greek yoghurt.

Stuffed cucumber 1 2014 Stuffed cucumber 2 2014

Slice up a few pieces of sun dried tomatoes.  It’s on my list this summer to try to make some with the tomatoes from our garden.  Should be an interesting experiment!

Stuffed cucumber 3 2014

Mix with the cheese and yoghurt, add some chopped oregano and salt and pepper.  Squeeze a splash or so of lemon juice and stir it together.  My husband and son don’t like olives so instead of chopping the kalamata olives and mixing them in I just topped most of these with a slice of olive.

Stuffed cucumber 5 2014

Very easy to make for a dinner party or for a healthy snack.  And I do love the pairing of sun dried tomatoes and olives.

 

Pasta Salad and a Growing Family

If I was told 10 years ago we would be trying to shoe horn 12 family members round the table I would have thought that person was crazy.  My sister was getting ready to walk down the aisle and I was single.  It was just the five of us including my aunt.  7 years ago my eldest nephew was born.  Since then I’ve met my husband and my kids and my sister had two more children.  Seems unbelievable how our family has grown.

This past Sunday we all got together to celebrate my eldest nephew’s birthday.  My sister asked me to make a salad. I chose to make a pasta salad as parts of it could be made the day before and then quickly assembled at her place.  Helpful as it is a 2 1/2 hour drive to get there.  Plus it can feed a lot of people as we had our family and my brother-in-law’s family as well.

I cooked up the cheese pasta the day before and lightly coated it with olive oil because there is nothing worse than pasta sticking in great big clumps.

When I got to my sister’s I added feta cheese, chopped peppers, sundried tomatoes, and kalamata olives.   I dressed it with balsamic vinaigrette.   And it’s ready to serve!  A very easy but tasty dish for big gatherings.

Pasta salad 1 2013