This dish is a very good main course dish for vegetarians (and meat lovers if they can be torn away from meat) but it is also good as a starter. It is an oven baked dish, which makes it perfect for a dinner party, you just pop it in the oven and then as you have starters it is ready to eat. The use of wild mushrooms brings a depth to this dish that you simply wouldn’t get from cultivated mushrooms and it is very easy to adapt the recipe and make it into your very own ‘wild mushroom harvest’ signature dish.
For a main course, this will serve 4 comfortably, as a starter it will serve 6
You will need:
700 g or 1 ½ lbs of green beans
75 g or 3 oz of slightly salted butter
1 large red onions, finely chopped
115 g or 4 oz of wild mushrooms, standard field mushrooms are fine, with some porcini or chanterelles thrown in. These should be as fresh as possible, preferably picked that day. These should be either thinly sliced, or chopped according to taste
2 tablespoons of plain flour
225 ml or 8 fl oz of mile
65g or 2 ½ oz of grated cheese, cheddar is fine
1 large pinch of salt
Pepper to taste
115 g or 4 oz of drained canned water chestnuts
40 g or 1 ½ oz of flaked blanched almonds
40 g or 1 ½ oz of breadcrumbs (use wholemeal bread if possible)
First pre heat your oven to 180 º C or 350 Fº, or gas mark 4. Rinse the beans thoroughly under running water. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then add in the beans. Cover and let the beans cook for about 6 or 7 minutes (5 if you like them to be firm). Then drain the beans and allow them to cool.
Then melt around three quarters of the butter in a frying pan and add the onion. Maintain a medium heat for the pan, allowing the onions to cook gently, until they are very soft. This should take 3-4 minutes. Keep the heat medium and add in the mushrooms. Cook them for 5 more minutes. Then blend in the flour. Add in the milk, cheese as well as the salt and pepper. At this stage, the mixture may have a tendency to go lumpy. If it does, then stir well. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted and the sauce has started to thicken. This will happen in about 5 minutes. (Again, if it does go lumpy, then just stir very briskly).
Next, grease a shallow ovenproof dish. Add the green beans and water chestnuts into the frying pan with the cheese sauce, then transfer it into the ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and then finish with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs.
Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until it is golden brown and ‘bubbling’ on top.
Serve with a salad and some salad potatoes for a very special way to celebrate your mushroom crop.