Mushrooms à la grecque, ‘in the Greek style’, with olive oil and lemon, is a classic ‘traiteurs’ dish, sold in all French delicatessens. This was the type of dish, easily reproduced in the UK, popularised by Elizabeth David’s exploration of Mediterranean food; it became a 1970s dinner party favourite. Using olive oil, lemon and white wine vinegar, the mushrooms are lightly pickled, à l’escabèche, and can be served warm or cold, as a starter or as a side.
When I get a punnet of button mushrooms in my organic vegetable box, I’ll often make this dish. It’s so addictive to eat, I’ll end up scoffing the lot by myself, straight from the saucepan. Whole coriander seeds are rather essential, I also add a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme.
For a vegan Christmas dinner, a bowl of mushrooms à la grecque will offset the richness of a nut roast, the fat and fluff of good roast potatoes, the sweetly bitter Brassica notes of Brussels sprouts. I also added a lengthy splash of a minerally Greek wine, Assyrtiko Wild Ferment, Gaia. This is an interesting wine; the grapes are grown not on a vine but coiled in a wind-resistant basket shape on the volcanic ground.
Mushrooms à la Grecque recipe
Serves 4 or one greedy person
50ml olive oil
400g whole button mushrooms, any dirt brushed off (if larger, then slice)
Juice of half a lemon (make sure no pips)
2 or 3 tbsps of white wine vinegar
Splash of white wine (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
1 heaped tablespoon of whole coriander seeds
2 fresh sprigs of thyme
1 tsp of Maldon’s sea salt
Ground white pepper, to taste
Heat up the oil gently in a medium saucepan on a medium heat then add your mushrooms. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for around ten minutes then serve or leave to cool and serve later. Can be kept in the fridge for up to two days.