by Mario Batali
Even though summer has not quite ended, I'm already mourning the end of tomato season and the sheer bounty of produce available at the market. But the beauty of the
Italians have a love of mushrooms. They have for generations. During autumn in
You would be less likely to find shiitake in Bologna's Mercato di Mezzo. The second most commonly cultivated edible mushroom variety in the world, the shiitake is native to
Shiitake mushrooms are revered for their immune-boosting and cholesterol-lowering properties and have been used medicinally for centuries. They are also subtle in taste, with the heartiness of meat but the lightness of an antipasto. In the recipe below, substitute any wild mushroom available at market. I also like oyster and porcini.
The cool, crisp autumn air summons the warm umami flavor of roasted mushrooms. Contrast it with stinging cold Lambrusco secco. That's not the pervasive sweet red wine of the 1980s but rather the dry sparkling wine prized in
This is the perfect dish for a part-time vegetarian or Meatless Monday devotee. (I happen to know a few.) The woodiness of roasted mushrooms and herbs is a realization of the autumn season.
Cool Roasted Shiitake with Barbecued Onions and Basil Oil
From "The Babbo Cookbook" by
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, 2 finely chopped and 2 thinly sliced
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 large red onions, sliced crosswise into half-inch slices
Basil oil (see recipe)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the sage, rosemary and chopped garlic, and whisk to blend. Place the mushrooms in a small roasting pan or casserole and pour the oil mixture over. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, and roast uncovered for 20 minutes.
Drain the mushrooms (saving the strained oil for a mushroom vinaigrette) and set aside in a medium bowl to cool. In a separate bowl, combine the sliced garlic, anchovy paste, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Gently whisk in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and pour the mixture over the mushrooms.
Preheat the grill or broiler.
Brush the onion slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill on the hottest part of the grill until tender and grill-marked, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove the onions from the grill and divide them evenly among four warmed dinner plates. Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and mound them evenly atop the onions. Drizzle each plate with basil oil and serve immediately.
Makes 2 cups.
1 cup packed basil leaves, chopped
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until nearly smooth and uniformly green. Strain through a fine sieve.
Vegetarian Appetizer Recipe, Italian Cuisine