Time to turn to that ‘third plate’: Locally produced vegetables

Mushrooms constitute a good alternative healthy option for vegetable-forward dishes

Mushrooms bruschetta with cream cheese on the Tray.

Mushrooms bruschetta with cream cheese on the Tray.

 

With Easter having passed, I’m sure you have had your fill of lamb and hot cross buns. It’s probably time turn to vegetables and focus on a few dishes that can elevate our Irish crops to the same standing as our beef.

When I was growing up, vegetables always seemed to be an afterthought, playing second fiddle to the meat (we only had fish on Friday).

According to American chef Dan Barber, we should be turning to the “third plate”, that is, local vegetable focused plates that possibly include meat or fish as a minor element.

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Mushrooms are a good option for vegetable-forward dishes. We are getting some beautiful organic mushrooms from Beechlawn Farm at the moment. Fried in a little butter, garlic and sage and then stuffed into filo pastry and baked, they are a super tasty, simple supper for a meat-free Monday. Don’t forget to brush the outside of the pastry with oil or a little egg to create a nice crisp outside.

Mushroom crostini are also another way of using the same key ingredients for a handy starter. Antonio Carluccio had a beautiful recipe for fried mushrooms with marjoram and chilli. I’ve never been a fan of chilli, so I generally leave it out. Simply sauté the sliced mushrooms (go for a nice mix), in oil with garlic and marjoram (or thyme), and fold in some chopped parsley.

Grill some good bread (sourdough or soda) and then pile the mushrooms on top. If you can find some morels, and they are in season now, then I’d definitely use some to delight your friends or family who eat these wonderful morsels. Grated sheep’s cheese , such as Cáis na Tíre, produced in Tipperary, is a nice addition to the crostini. 

With the rise in vegan and vegetarian eating, it’s important that we keep our vegetable farmers in mind. There are now only 165 commercial vegetable farmers left in Ireland. Any diet we choose to follow must also support the local economy. So maybe swap your avocado and eggs for mushrooms and eggs, perhaps with a little kale thrown in.

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