Supermarket Vegetarian: Part IX
This is the ninth installment of my SUPERMARKET VEGETARIAN series and I can’t believe how fast time is flying. I felt like I started writing this series about six minutes ago.
But it’s the penultimate recipe, so I wanted to make it a juicy one.
Again, this recipe uses ingredients you can buy from your local supermarket. This particular recipe is a mash-up of Lidl and ASDA purchases, but I am pretty damn sure you could get all ingredients from either one.
A traybake is a home cook’s prayer. When you’re nackered after work and the stove looks like it’s giving you the middle finger, a traybake will give it the middle finger right back. It’s on your side.
The difficulty with a meatless traybake is that you have to manufacture the juices. As grotesque as that sounds in normal terms, in a meatless culinary sense this just means we want to create salivating moisture in the absence of flesh to generate juice.
Gross, right? But amazing at the same time.
This South African inspired tray-bake punctures some really feisty flavours into big, plump mushrooms that create an amazing amalgamation of sharpness and sweetness.
And I have always stood true in the notion that meatless recipes should never try and recreate meat in flavour. Meatless meals should be appreciated for the flavours they are naturally, as opposed to the flavours they are trying to meat recreate. So I smother the mushrooms in this South African marinade so that it not only enhances the flavour of the mushroom, but also generates it’s own juices to further puncture the potatoes.
Plus it’s getting sunnier here in the UK (which for Brits means t-shirt tan marks, Pimms and deck chairs) so this is a good meal to have blipping away in the oven while you focus on sunbathing and lapping up the three seconds of sun we have left.
And in the name of full disclosure, I have always said that nothing can be deemed an authentic cultural recipe if it is not cooked by somebody of that culture. Sue me. A Welsh cake, for example, is not an authentic Welsh cake unless cooked by a Welsh person. That’s just how I feel! But, that is not to say that our dishes cannot be largely inspired by other cultures, so please see this marinade as being influenced and inspired by particular South African recipes, as opposed to soap-boxing it as an authentic dish.
Preheat your oven to 200C.
In a big bowl (big enough to fit four big ass mushrooms) drop in three tablespoons of apricot jam. Add a teaspoon of mustard, a tablespoon of so of tomato puree, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of cardamom powder, a few light shakes of soy sauce and the juice of one lime. Mix everything together to create a deep, maroon glaze. Get four big mushrooms (the bigger the better because they shrink) and put them in the bowl.
Now my favourite part because I’m an animal – coat the mushrooms. I use my hands and just lather everything together but you could use spoons or something if you want. Your call. Once they’re coated though, leave them on the side to marinade.
Get on with your potatoes by slicing them up into chunks. I use Red Rooster potatoes because the skins go really crunchy and sexy but go with what’s easier.
My chunks (what a way to start a sentence) are sliced as such – I take a fist sized potato and halve it. Then I grab each half and slice and X into it, so essentially quartering the half? But the X gives it nice, weird shape chunks – which crisp nicer.
Toss these into a pan. Drizzle over a little oil, some salt, pepper and a little shake of smoked paprika. Rustle everything together and throw them in the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take them out and nestle the mushrooms among the potatoes. Pour over any leftover marinade and pop the tray back in the oven for a further 20 minutes.
By this time the potatoes will be cooked through and while the mushrooms would have slightly shrunk in size, they both would have adopted the maroon marinade.
I serve this sprinkled with a little fresh thyme and some rocket leaves, straight from a designer pillow bag.