Carpaccio, thin slivers of raw beef dressed with rocket leaves, Grana and a lemony oil. Heavenly, but a sure fire way of blowing the weeks budget. So may I introduce what I think is the best sustitube for beef: shrooms. I’m not saying that if you closed you eyes you won’t taste the difference, but their texture and ability to soak up flavours hits the spots in a meatless mushroom and stout pie or a portabello wellington (minced meat is another kettle of fish, as in that case I’d opt for earthy lentils). But in a carpaccio?
I’ve made an Asian style mushroom salad with thinly sliced mushrooms marinated in miso, soya, rice wine and chilli, but as I’ve a huge hunk of Grana Padano sitting in my fridge and truffle oil still left from my neighbours kind donation of unwanted food items in their Christmas Fortnum & Masons hamper, I decided not to mess with the classic too much– well, apart from switching the wafer-thin beef for field mushrooms.
I completely agree that truffle oil and Grana are two ingredients that you would not think of buying when shopping on a budget – but what can I do if lovely people insist on giving me such wonderful gifts? Luckily with the EU and increased popularity of Italian cheese replacing those pots of powdered ‘Parmesan’ I reckon Parmesan is actually doable (check out LIDL) as a little goes a very long way and the flavour it imparts is, for me, well worth sacrificing a slab of meat for.
That said, I won’t be replace the truffle oil when the last drop is drizzled. If you don’t have truffle oil, I make this a more lemony dish and add the juice of half a lemon to the olive oil. The mushroom cost me 18p from the market, but please bear in mind that this is such a simple dish it relies on good flavoured ingredients. The mushroom must taste like a mushroom and use the best cold-pressed olive oil you can afford – also an worthwhile investment – otherwise, I’ll try to remember to post the Asian version for insipid shrooms!
RECIPE: Mushroom carpaccio with rocket, Grana and truffle oil
Serves 1 for a light lunch or 2 as an antipasto
1 large field or portabello mushroom
A handful or rocket leaves
A few scattered thyme leaves
Shavings of Grana or Parmesan
A glug of extra virgin olive oil
A spritz of lemon juice from a wedge
A drizzle of truffle oil – or hey – freshly grated truffles!
A sprinkling of salt and grinding of pepper
INSTRUCTIONS: Wipe clean, remove the stalk (you can use this in another dish) and pop the mushroom in the freezer for ten minutes to firm up. This will make it easier to slice.
Sharpen your best knife and slice the mushroom as thinly as you can, layering the slices so they look pretty on your plate. Drizzle over the olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice over the mushrooms (you could mix these together to make a lemon oil, but I’m all for les washing up) and season. Scatter over the thyme leaves, rocket and shavings of Grana before drizzling over the truffle oil and enjoy!