Umami Rich Portabella Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomato and Black Garlic Pesto

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Recently I was asked to create my own version of one of the vegan dishes offered on the menus of ‘The Wynn Resort‘ in Las Vegas. The hotel has recently teamed up with famous vegan chef Tal Ronnen so I was eager to bring my own twist to the menu.

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I decided to alter his version of ‘royal trumpet mushrooms with a soy reduction’ at the Lakeside Restaurant and create my own umami rich mushroom dish. Mushrooms, tomatoes and black garlic are all ingredients that are bursting with umami. I wrote an article for Country & Townhouse Magazine on umami which you can read here. My ingredient that brings depth of flavour and an interesting twist though is black garlic – see another article here. It is now becoming increasingly easy to get hold of and can be sourced at some of the large supermarkets here in the UK. I can only imagine the same can be said for the US. If not there is a business opportunity out there for someone as this is a seriously magic ingredient.

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It is so straight forward and quick to prepare and bake that these can be easily rustled up in no time at all. I find them hugely satisfying and perfect if you want a vegetarian flavoursome meal.

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I like to sit the mushrooms on a bed of steamed spinach with a sprinkling of dried chilli flakes and a splash of lemon juice. So Tal if you are reading this how about adding this to the menu? Do let me know if you do.

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Portabella Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomato and Black Garlic Pesto and Steamed Spinach

Serves 2

2-4 large portabella mushrooms (depending how hungry you are)

70g sun dried tomatoes

3 black garlic bulbs

20ml sun dried tomato oil

200g fresh spinach

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

fresh lemon, quartered to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Cut the stork of the mushroom if it is protruding and place in a hand blender. Add the sun dried tomatoes, black garlic bulbs and sun dried tomato oil. Blitz so that it forms a pesto like consistency.

3. Spoon the tomato pesto onto the mushrooms evenly and place in an oven proof dish. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

4. Steam the spinach or simply place the spinach in a pan with 1 tsp of cold water which will make it wilt. Move it around the pan for a minute so that it is all wilted. Add the chilli flakes and serve on to a plate.

5. Place the hot stuffed mushrooms onto the spinach and serve with fresh lemon on the side.

Please note you will not need to add any salt to this dish as the umami flavours more than make up for flavour and depth. 


Scallops with Black Garlic, Black Pudding and a Balsamic Jus with Pea and Mint Quenelles

You’ll have to excuse me for this blog post. It slightly pains me to post it if I am being honest as the photographs are all wrong…in the sense that I took them in the evening with no light. This is a major no no for food photographs and normally I always shoot in daylight but for this post I could not reheat the dish and as much as I love scallops I really did not want to eat them for lunch and supper. So please overlook these dark shots and believe me when I tell you this is a seriously quick, tasty and stylish dish that is guaranteed to please anyone you present it to.

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Fresh scallops are wonderful, but I sometimes buy frozen from my local fishmonger and they work pretty well and are relatively good value. I am also a HUGE fan of black garlic. I wrote an article about black garlic for Country and Townhouse Magazine which you can read here. It will tell you all about them so have a peek at the article. Black garlic is beginning to pop up in some supermarkets but I sometimes just order it directly from either The Garlic Farm,  Merchant Gourmet or The South West Garlic Farm.

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Some people are squeamish about black pudding, but please people seriously there is nothing to get worked up about, unless you are vegetarian/vegan then I apologise. The fact is the saltiness from the black pudding works brilliantly with the scallops and the black garlic adds a umami (I wrote an article about this too – read here) sweetness that bursts in a flavour explosion in your mouth. I have added a balsamic jus to bind it all together and then added little quenelles (oval shape mounds of food) of pea and mint puree.

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The colours and flavours are magical. I think it probably works best as a starter or you could just add a few more scallops and black pudding to turn it into a main.

Scallops with Black Garlic, Black Pudding a Balsamic Jus and Pea & Mint Quenelles

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

16 1/2 inch slices of black pudding

1 tbsp butter

16 scallops

16 slithers of black garlic

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp boiling water (optional)

300g frozen peas

8 mint leaves

salt and pepper to season as required

1. First place the oil in a frying pan and when it is hot add the black pudding slices and cook on both sides for a couple of minutes, by which time they will have darkened in colour and crisped up slightly. Set aside in a warm place.

2. In a separate pan boil the peas and add the mint to infuse. After 5 minutes, drain and then puree using a blender. You can add a little chicken stock at this stage if you want a smoother more runny puree. Set aside in a warm place.

3. Using the pan that you cooked the black pudding heat the butter. Once it is melted and hot, but not burnt, add the scallops and gently heat for max 2 minutes on each side, so that a slight bronzing occurs on both sides. Add the black garlic once you have cooked one side of the scallops and then add the balsamic jus just before you take the scallops out of the pan. Ladle the balsamic jus over the scallops and then place them on a warm plate.

3. Raise the temperature slightly and add the boiling water if you want more of a jus and boil for a few minutes so the jus reduces and thickens slightly.

4. To plate up (use pre-warmed plates) add the black pudding followed by the scallop and then the black garlic. Next create quenelles with the pea and mint puree. They are easy to do. Watch the quick video below to show you how to do them.

5. Finally pour the jus over the scallops and around the plate.

Serve immediately so that it is still hot.