Button mushroom soup (left), Wild mushroom risotto (right)

Open butternut and mushroom lasagne (left), Mushroom and potato bake (right)

Recipes Alice Wilhelm,  Photography Roelene Prinsloo

From forests to foodies’ plates, bearing vitamins, minerals and loads of flavour, fabulous fungi cross the borders of countries and culinary concepts.

Button mushroom soup

A delicately flavoured soup which is divine topped with fresh crunchy homemade croutons.

Serves: 4 main portions

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

15ml butter

1 onion, finely chopped

250g button mushrooms, roughly chopped

120g brown mushrooms, roughly chopped

15ml flour

125ml medium sherry

1000ml chicken stock

150ml milk

125g herb croutons

50ml mascarpone

Method:

1 Melt the butter in a saucepan. Once heated add the onions and fry until translucent.

2 Add the mushrooms, and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until soft. Stir in flour, cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

3 Stir in the stock, a little at time, and slowly bring to the boil – simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

4 Blend soup until smooth. Return to saucepan and stir in sherry and milk, then season to taste.

5 Garnish with croutons and a spoon of mascarpone on each.

Wild mushroom risotto

This is a fabulous meal served as is. The earthy flavours of the mushrooms are truly magnificent.

Serves: 4

Time: 35 – 40 minutes

Ingredients:

500g mixed mushrooms, sliced

125g butter

15ml thyme

1 onion, finely chopped

500ml Arborio rice

190ml dry white wine

700ml stock

100ml cream

60g Parmesan

30ml fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method:

1 Fry the mushrooms in half of the butter, remove from the pot and keep aside for later. In the same pot used for the mushrooms, and using the remaining butter, fry the thyme and onion until translucent.

2 Add the rice and stir to coat with butter. On a low heat add the white wine, stir until totally absorbed.

3 Then add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring constantly, and allowing the stock to be absorbed.

4 Once the grains are al dente (cooked with a slight chewiness) add the cream a little at a time, stirring until absorbed.

5 Once all the liquid has been absorbed add the cooked mushrooms, Parmesan and parsley. Serve immediately.

Open butternut and mushroom lasagne

This is a nice vegetarian alternative to lasagne, yet very creamy and tasty.

Serves: 4

Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

250g butternut, cubed

45ml sugar

30ml olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

250g portabellini mushrooms, quartered

Béchamel sauce:

40g butter

40g flour

10ml thyme

500ml milk

5ml whole grain mustard

50g parmesan cheese

Lasagne sheets

100g cheddar cheese

50g feta cheese

Method:

1 Preheat oven to 180°C. Roast butternut in a little of the oil, until the butternut is cooked but still holding shape.

2 Heat the remaining oil in a pan to fry the onion. Once translucent, add the mushrooms and cook for a minute or two. Set aside for later.

3 For the béchamel, melt the butter – once starting to bubble, add the flour and cook for a minute. Add the thyme, and slowly add the milk, stirring quickly. Cook until thickened and then add the mustard and parmesan. Season to taste

4 Boil the lasagne sheets in salted water until cooked through. Cut in half while still hot. Layer on the plate the mushroom onion mix, lasagne sheet, butternut and spoonful béchamel, then repeat layering. Finish with a lasagne sheet and cover with remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and feta.

5 Grill until cheese is melted before serving

Mushroom and potato bake

A staple in most of our diets and always appears when its time to braai, with the addition of mushrooms this potato bake will be the main event of the meal.

Serves: 8

Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

50g butter, melted

700g potatoes

20ml rosemary, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

50ml chives, finely chopped

500g mixed mushrooms, thinly sliced

100g white cheddar

250ml cream

15ml corn flour

50g parmesan

50g feta cheese

Method:

1 Preheat the oven to 180 ºC. Coat the baking dish with the melted butter.

2 Peel the potatoes and slice into thin rounds, about 5mm, and simmer in salted water on a low heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3 Layer a quarter of the slices in the base of the dish. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over a quarter of the rosemary, garlic and chives.

4 Arrange a quarter of the sliced mushrooms on top of the potatoes and half the white cheddar. Repeat the layering in the same order, finishing with a layer of potatoes.

5 Stir the corn flour into the cream until smooth. Season the cream lightly with salt and pepper and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the parmesan and feta cheese on top and bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.