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Roasted mushrooms with pesto and polenta

Stylish enough for a dinner party, and simple enough for a weeknight supper

This recipe fits neatly in the under-thirty-minutes category, as the polenta is the quick-cooking kind, which can be delicious – promise. It will be softer, less textural than the proper, slow cooking type, but the only way to approach these substitutions and shortcuts is not to compare but to give the very best flavour to the ingredients you have the time and budget for. Sometimes the attention and handling is all, even if that’s not a very fashionable thing to say.

Serves 4

1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp dry red wine
dash of Tabasco sauce
4 large Portobello or field mushrooms
large handful of basil leaves
4 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Polenta
1 litre vegetable stock made with
1⁄2 tsp bouillon powder (Nadine uses Marigold Organic)
180g five-minute polenta
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
30g Parmesan, freshly grated
50g rocket, torn
To serve
1 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
1 garlic clove, crushed
250g Swiss chard, tough stalks removed and leaves torn
knob of butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
2. Mix together the tamari, brandy, red wine, Tabasco and 1 tbsp of water and use to baste the mushrooms. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, make a mock pesto by putting the basil leaves in a herb chopper or small blender, together with the olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and blend until fairly fine.
4. Coat the mushrooms with the pesto on both sides, pushing it into the gills as much as you can and reserving any that you do not use.
5. Put the mushrooms in a roasting tin in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through and have wept their deep liquor.
6. About 5 minutes before the mushrooms are ready, place the pine nuts, if using, on a baking sheet in the oven to roast.
7. To cook the Swiss chard, melt the butter in a large saucepan and sweat the garlic. Add the chard. Cover the lid and cook until wilted, stirring a couple of times to make sure it is well coated in the butter.
8. Meanwhile, make the polenta. Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Pour in the polenta in a steady stream. Stir with a wooden spoon until thickened but still quite sloppy. Stir in the olive oil and Parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Finally stir in the torn rocket leaves and transfer to four warmed deep plates.
9. Place a roasted mushroom on each plate, with any remaining pesto and the juices from the roasting pan poured in as a gravy. Serve the Swiss chard on the side, sprinkled with the roasted pine nuts.

Recipe from Cranks Fast Food by Nadine Abensur

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