My love of mushrooms goes back to as early as I can remember eating on my own. I remember my mom sauteeing mushrooms with butter and finishing them with a squeeze of lemon juice and finishing them with some dried Greek oregano. Back then (70’s) one could only find white button mushrooms but today the choice is wide, the flavours varied and the winner – the consumer.
Besides white mushrooms there are Cremini, then Portobello (which are what Cremini grow to become), the Japanese Shitaki, Oyster, King, Porcini, Lobster, Black Trumpet, Chanterelle and my favourite – Morels. Many of the mushrooms you see at your local market are farmed and affordable. The wild ones are expensive but now and then they are worth the splurge. There are also lots of choices when it comes to dried mushrooms with practically all of them (including the ones mentioned above) being available.
The great thing about dried mushrooms is that you once again preserve nature’s goodness and be able to squirrel them away for the off-season. You see, wild mushrooms usually pop-up in forests about 2 weeks after a rainfall. It doesn’t always rain and there are seasons for certain mushrooms so cooking with a combo of dried mushrooms and more affordable button, Creminiand maybe some Oysters can (and will) deliver taste.
Today’s dish is a Mushroom Giouvetsi – fit for those fasting for Lent or just simply looking for a substantive dish without any meat. Mushrooms are one of those meaty vegetables and you’ve not going to miss them in this dish. First, dried mushrooms get re-hydrated in hot water to create a flavourful mushrooms stock then they are added to a pot of cooked-down mushrooms with onions, herbs and tomatoes.
Giouvetsi is a traditional Greek dish consisting of krithraki pasta (orzo) and some sort of protein (veal, lamb, chicken), liquid and baked in traditional earthernware vessels. Whether you’re fasting or not, this dish is hearty, healthy and a delight for mushroom lovers.
1/2 cup dried mushrooms
6 cups hot water (or vegetable stock)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
2-3 bay leaves
2 cups of assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups of dry kritharaki (or orzo)
2 cups of crushed plum tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
grated Kefalotyri cheese
- Place your dried mushrooms in large bowl and boil 6 cups of water then add into the bowl and cover. Now place a large skillet on your stovetop and add the olive oil, onions, carrots, celery, fresh mushrooms and bay and sweat-down for 6-7 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes, thyme, oregano and season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for another 25-30 minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked down. Pre-heat your oven to 375F.
- Add the kritharaki (orzo) and stir-in for 5 minutes to allow the pasta to toast. Take your bowl full of re-hydrated mushrooms and pass through a strainer (re-heat the mushroom stock if needed), chop the mushrooms and add it to the skillet (along with mushroom stock) and bring up to a boil.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, add the fresh grated nutmeg, chopped parsley and pour all the contents in a baking vessel/casserole or individual terra cotta “giouvetsi” vessels and place in your pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the top is golden brown.
- Serve with a Domaine Gerovassliou Syrah.
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