Mushrooms baked in vine leaves
Of all the stuff I picked over the weekend, the most exotic by far, for me, have been the vine leaves.
I´d never seen them used, except to make dolmades. And the mere idea of tackling something so time consuming is enough to send me into a swoon. I try not to roll and stuff too many things, for the sake of my mental health.
Then last year I read a recipe in Elisabeth David´s
Of pageants and picnics (best title ever?), and was very intrigued. Sceptical , even.
She claimed that baking ordinary button or flat mushrooms with vine leaves would make them taste wild and woodsy and utterly different. Of course I deeply respect la David for the giant of gastronomic culture she is, but I thought here she was just trying to be cool and Mediterranean.
But since I happened to be in the country at the time, reading her book under an actual trellis of vine leaves, I thought, why not?
And I was instantly converted. It´s my kind of favourite recipe, the sort that is almost not a recipe but a set of recommendations. As long as you have vine leaves, the process is simple in the extreme, and the outcome, just as surprisingly good as was promised.
I´ve lost the book, since it´s one of those flimsy paperbacks that are easily swallowed by sofas, left on trains, or forgotten in the pocket of a winter handbag. But luckily I was so taken by the recipe that I wrote it down in my favourite recipes notebook.
Preheat the oven to 200º. Boil water, and blanch the leaves for about a minute. Drain.
Clean the mushrooms, and cut the stems off. Line the bottom of a baking dish with half the vine leaves. Put the mushrooms on top, the caps in one piece, and the stems on their own , and a few whole garlic cloves scattered in between. Add salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and cover with a second layer of leaves.
Cover the tray . I use an earthenware round dish that´s the same size as a cooking pot, and the lid fits perfectly, but you can cover it with foil.
Leave for about an hour.