Friday, 2 March 2012

Low-carb veggies: Marinated Mushrooms, Beans & Feta

This blimmin' low-carb regime, as espoused by the man whose name is on everyone's lips in South Africa right now, Professor Tim Noakes, has recently presented some severe catering challenges. It's annoying enough to have to cook a rib-sticker of a meal for my family of five every night, but to have to make one that excludes potatoes, pasta, bread, pulses and rice (and which includes some of the aforementioned carbohydrates for the two Skinnies in my house) has become intolerable. The only consolation is that, after two weeks or so, there are looser waistbands all round. (My waistband is, I admit, perhaps less loose than the rest, but that's only because I refuse to give up fruit pastilles and wine.) Anyhow, here's a dish I've made several times, that vanishes in a jiffy, and that is as satisfying as any salad lacking potatoes can be.

Bowl by David Walters 
This is based on a recipe for marinated mushrooms that I first made when I was 10 or so, and became interested in cooking. My mum quite often made marinated mushrooms - a quintessential dish of the Seventies -  for special occasions, and over the past few decades I've altered and tweaked the recipe to my liking; you of course can do the same by adding your choice of flavourings to the mix. For low-carb-meal purposes, I've added some just-cooked, squeaky green beans and generous blocks of creamy feta cheese. If you're pressed for time, buy ready-sliced green beans, and cook them in your microwave oven.

Low-Carb Marinated Mushrooms, Beans & Feta

For the marinated mushrooms:
500 g portabellini mushrooms, or similar small button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, halved lengthways, and skin left on
1 bay leaf
2 big sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbsp (45 ml) white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp (60 ml) dry white wine
2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
2 tsp (10 ml) Kikkoman soy sauce (optional)
1 tsp (5 ml) white sugar
salt and milled black pepper

For the salad:
500 g fresh green beans, topped and tailed
2 'wheels' (about 160 g) creamy, firm feta cheese
the juice of a small lemon
4 Tbsp (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Put all the ingredients for the marinated mushrooms in a big saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Cover with a lid, turn down the heat and and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the mushrooms  are tender. Take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool for at least two hours. If you're not going to make the salad immediately, place the pot in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Cut the beans into thirds crossways and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a vigorous boil. Throw in the beans and cook them for 7-8 minutes, or until they are just tender but retain a slight bite. While the beans are cooking, fill a big bowl with cold water and add a few handfuls of ice cubes. Drain the beans and plunge them into the iced water. Leave them for 5 minutes, then drain them again, pat them dry and place in a large bowl.  Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss well. Now fish the mushrooms from their marinade with a slotted spoon and add them to the bowl, along with about 8 tablespoons of the marinade, or more, to taste. Stir in the feta cubes and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside to soak for 20 minutes before serving (but don't leave the salad to stand for too long, or the beans will turn muddy).

Serves 4. 

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