If I didn’t know any better, this could be considered quite a lazy vegetarian dish, lots of dairy, which on an animal cruelty view can often be little better than eating meat, and a big pile of wild mushrooms is hardly the most inventive of combinations. But actually I started the recipe with the idea of using walnuts and chestnuts and built from there.
The mushrooms aren’t a poor meat substitute because I’ve never understood why you would want to use an ingredient to bring attention to what a dish doesn’t have rather than accentuate what it does have, in this case the toasted walnuts – I’ve also explored the combination before but I wanted to take advantage of the different textures this time. And even the idea that a meal is missing something without meat is itself erroneous: there is so much variety amongst vegetables and they deserve to be given a chance to shine on their own.
I managed to get a great selection of various mushrooms in Fallon & Byrne, including porcinis, girolles and a crazy looking specimen I think is called lion’s mane. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture but the whole fruiting body was covered in a shaggy coating and when cooked it had the texture of chicken. I really only bought it because of its strange appearance but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted.
The observant amongst you may also have noticed that there are some hazelnuts in the picture below: unlike the chestnuts, I didn’t buy my walnuts in Fallon & Byrne and I had to throw the majority out because they were rotten. It’s definitely worth paying a premium for whole nuts because it’s such a false economy if you get them on the cheap only to end up discarding over fifty per cent.
For full recipe details please go to, www.wholemeal.ie