According to a recent press release mushrooms are one of New Zealanders' most-loved vegetables, along with potatoes and tomatoes. Potatoes and tomatoes I can understand, but mushrooms? I suspect the dark arts of PR at work here (not even vegetables are safe) - the findings were based on a Household Economic Survey that probably measures expenditure. Ergo, potatoes would be up there due to volume, but I suspect the price of mushrooms and tomatoes has something to do with their elevated status.
That's not to detract from the magic of mushrooms though. I like them as much as the next person, especially if that next person happens to be my neighbour (also called Lucy) who brought over an amazing bowl of mushrooms a while ago. This - more or less - is what she did to them.
Lucy's magic mushrooms
When I came to make these myself I couldn't quite remember Lucy's exact instructions, but a bit of creative licence goes a long way. We ate them as tapas when she came over, but when I made them myself I served them over a bit of pearl barley tossed in tahini and mushroom juices. It made a very good take-to-work lunch.
250g portobello mushrooms
2Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Wipe the mushrooms clean and slice into halves or quarters. Heat the olive oil in a small pan, then toss the mushrooms in. Saute gently until they are juicy, then pour in the vinegar. Turn off the heat and remove the mushrooms to a bowl. Season to taste. Eat immediately with crusty bread and a glass of wine, or enjoy later (with another glass of wine, naturally).
What's your favourite thing to do with mushrooms?