Vegetable Heaven & the perfect lunch...
One of my very favourite cookbooks, when I'm in need of inspiration, is the wonderful 'Vegetable Heaven' by Catherine Mason. It's what I would call a 'non-vegetarian vegetarian recipe book' in that it isn't full of worthy wholemeal dishes, just amazingly different meals that are colourful, simple & really tasty. It is also beautifully illustrated with original paintings (no photographs) by Elda Abramson (you can even buy prints of the pictures, so gorgeous are they!) So today, a thaw set in...but it was a little bleak & cold, so we had a day completely at home and I made Spinach & Mushroom Pie topped with Parsley Mash from the book...and I HAD to share it with you, so good was it! Paul had thirds!
To serve 2 (greedy) or 3 normal people!
The Spinach & Mushroom Layer....
15g (1 tbsp) butter - or similar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
200g mushrooms (I used a mixture of chestnut & field) roughly chopped
180g cleaned spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed & chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon (i used a few splashes of dry white wine)
salt & pepper
120g creamy Gorgonzola, in chunks (I used Bleu d'Auvergne)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I used flat leaf as it was in the fridge!)
Warm the oil & butter in a large, deep saute or frying pan. Fry the mushrooms & onions gently, stirring from time to time. When they are just about tender, add the spinach & garlic & cook until the spinach is wilted (I just crammed the leaves in & put the lid on, so they wilted in the steam!) Add the lemon juice (or wine) & salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly before stirring in the cheese & parsley. It should be cool enough that the cheese doesn't melt totally. Spread into a baking dish (approx 22cm x 7cm deep but I used a bigger one as it was all I had handy) Preheat oven to 220c (425f, Gas 7)
400/450g (approx 1lb) plain mashed potato
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten (this lightens the mash & makes it slightly 'moussey' so don't be tempted to omit it)
2 tbsp milk (I used some left over creme fraiche)
salt & pepper
Mix all together well & use to top the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with 30/40g fresh grated parmesan cheese & bake in the hot oven for approx 20/30 mins until golden & bubbling.
We had ours with a winter chicory salad, but you could cook an additional green veg (peas would be lovely) or just have it plain!
It tasted so savoury & good. But everything I've tried in this book has been. It was given to me by my oldest friend, Isobel - friends since we were 6 - and I am ever grateful to her. Never more so than this afternoon when we ate this delicious, warming lunch! x