Balsamic Mushroom Paste
Yesterday morning the word mushroom paste popped up in a book I was reading. No recipe, just the mention of a chef being in the process of making mushroom paste. This got me thinking about how you would make this, and somehow I envisioned something creamy, like the vegetarian mushroom spreads I know from whole food shops.
So off I went to get some mushrooms. Now, when I say mushrooms I need to tell you something about “plain” mushrooms in German supermarkets. They’re either brown or white, that’s the only choice you get. Having lived in the UK, I’d gotten used to a variety of plain mushrooms – yes, they do all taste the same, but some are little button mushrooms, others are medium sized etc. Over here you have just the one standard size. If you’re very lucky you’ll find tiny ones but for a price.
Why am I telling you this? Because I was really surprised my favourite supermarket had bigger sized mushrooms yesterday – advertised as “jumbo mushrooms”. Well, I’d probably describe a portobello as jumbo, but the ones I bought were just a lot bigger than the standard ones. Nevertheless, buying them made my mushroom paste mission all the easier because I didn’t have so much cutting to do.
I cut 8 large mushrooms into wedges, pie-style, put them on a baking sheet together with a very large garlic clove that I cut into 4 pieces, added approximately 1½ tbsp olive oil and 90 ml mild balsamic vinegar and mixed well, then placed them on the middle shelf in the oven and roasted them for 15 minutes at 200°C (fan). Turned and mixed the mushrooms again, then roasted them for another 15 minutes. At this point, the caramelised balsamic should have blackened and turned sticky on the baking sheet.
While the mushrooms were in the oven, I chopped a handful of flat leaf parsley. After letting the mushrooms cool down for about 15 minutes, I roughly chopped them in a mini blender, then used an immersion blender to get a finer consistency. I then added the parsley and some freshly grated salt and pepper.
As you can see in the pictures, my mushroom paste turned out more like a tapenade consistency-wise, but the taste is just how I imagined it would be.
I had just bought some fresh ciabatta and spread the mushroom paste on it. Another way to serve the paste is spreading goats cheese or mascarpone on bread, then topping it with the mushroom paste.
I also drizzled some cherry condimento on the paste, which basically is a balsamic reduction. You can get this in many flavours, and the cherry one I used has a sweetish touch.
I’m quite content with how this mushroom paste turned out and would definitely serve it to guests.