Jamie Oliver’s “Ultimate Mushroom Bruschetta” from Jamie at Home was an instant favourite when I first made it more than a decade ago. The flavours were new to me back then. Everything was. But now I know the flavours – and his recipe – by heart. And mushrooms, garlic, thyme, chilli and lemon have become best friends in my kitchen. This recipe celebrates the classic flavours with a delightful plant-based meal. Lemony butter bean mash is the perfect base for the garlicky sautéed mushrooms and kale. And crunchy, nutty, thyme-and-chilli-spiked breadcrumbs turn this weeknight vegan meal into something sensational.
You can make any of these individual elements and be done with it. The butter bean mash, the mushrooms and kale or the spicy crumb. They’re all great on their own. But it’s together that they really deliver the flavour. Just as Jamie intended with his simple – but perfect – mushroom toasts.
Must I use portobello mushrooms?
Portobello mushrooms are common button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) left to mature. As they age, their caps grow large. And their gills open to release spores. Hence the large gills on the underside that make them look so different from the small button mushrooms. Fascinating, right? Check out the Wikipedia article for more button mushroom aliases.
Science lesson aside, I use portobello mushrooms in this recipe. I like the dense, fleshy texture of the mature mushrooms. Can’t find any portobello? No problem, simply use normal mushrooms, sliced in half or kept whole depending on their size.
What about a substitute for kale?
I have a strong preference for kale when it comes to leafy greens. Black kale – also referred to as Tuscan kale, cavolo nero or black cabbage – is my ultimate favourite. Tuscan kale – and their curly kale cousins – can withstand more cooking before they lose their texture and get all mushy. And I find “spinach tooth” to be less noticeable with kale, but that might just be my kale bias. That said, try baby spinach or chard if you prefer. Use your favourite, and you will love it! I will stick to my black kale.
Butter bean mash
If you’ve ever attempted to make mashed potatoes in a blender of sorts, you may be hesitant to put butter beans in a food processor. Cooked potatoes become an unappetising gluey mess when pureed. Sharp blades from the food processor tear the starch molecules before they can get coated in fat. The released starch mixes with the liquid in your cooked potatoes resulting in a gummy paste. Or something roughly like that.
The same does not happen with beans. My best guess is that this is due to lower starch content. While they are still high in carbs – which includes starch – they contain less than potatoes (when carbs are calculated as a percentage of dry matter). Enough less that you can comfortably blend them in a food processor. They also contain less water and more protein.
Purée cooked butter beans with olive oil and lemon juice, and you have a delicious vegan mash that is ready in minutes.
Butter bean mash ingredients
- tinned butter beans, rinsed and drained (or homecooked)
- extra virgin olive oil
- lemon juice and zest
- water to loosen the mash
Butter bean mash recipe
Add drained butter beans, be it homecooked, tinned or jarred, to the bowl of a food processor. For each cup of butter beans, add 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, ⅓ teaspoon salt, one tablespoon water and lemon zest to taste. Blitz everything in a food processor or blender until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides as you go
Do canned butter beans need to be cooked?
Canned butter beans are cooked and ready to use right away, but you may want to heat them up – depending on the recipe.
Can I freeze butter bean mash?
Absolutely! This butter bean mash freezes well in a sealed container. Simply defrost and gently reheat before serving the butter bean mash.
Should you drain canned butter beans?
It depends on the recipe. I prefer to drain and rinse the beans for this recipe to keep the butter bean mash nice and light. You can store the drained liquid in the fridge for a few days or freeze it for longer – it is called aquafaba. You can use it as a vegan alternative to egg whites!
The great thing about this meal – deliciousness aside – is that it is easy to prepare ahead of time.
Making the crunchy breadcrumbs in advance
Blitz the torn chunks of stale bread in a food processor until they are roughly almond-sized before adding the almonds and thyme. Blitz again into a coarse crumb and pan fry with two tablespoons of olive oil for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Finally, add the chilli flakes and salt and cook for a final 30 seconds. Allow the bread crumbs to cool completely before storing. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, tear the bread into the smallest chunks you can manage, and chop the almonds by hand.
Line a sealable container with absorbent kitchen paper. And once the crumbs are cool, refrigerate them in the lined container until needed. The breadcrumbs stay crisp for days when stored like this. There is no need to reheat the crumbs. Just remove the crumb mix from the fridge and allow them to get back to room temperature before serving.
Making the butter bean mash in advance
Purée all of the butter bean mash ingredients as directed in the recipe, without the last step of cooking on the stove. Place the mash in a sealed container in the fridge – or freezer if you really want to get ahead. Refrigerate the butter bean mash for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to a month. Simply heat the butter bean mash before serving.
Making the sauteed mushrooms and kale in advance
You can cook the mushrooms in advance. Either cook the mushrooms in two batches as detailed in the recipe box below or cook them in the oven. Place the thickly sliced mushrooms, rubbed with olive oil, on a baking tray in a 200 °C (390 °F) oven and roast for 40 minutes. Refrigerate the cooked mushrooms until you are ready to sautee the kale.
You can also refrigerate the final sauteed mushrooms and kale, but I prefer to have my kale just wilted. And if you are reheating the kale, you risk overcooking your leafy greens. But that’s just my preference. Sometimes convenience trumps overcooked kale.
This recipe produces a perfectly satisfying plant-based meal. But if you are feeding a hungry crowd – or you just want to amplify the humble ingredients to impress some friends – you can always add a poached, soft boiled or fried egg if you don’t need to keep things vegan. Or a dollop of creme fraiche, vegan yoghurt or homemade labneh. Maybe a few slices of avocado when in season? You can never go wrong by adding avocado.
Related Post: How to make labneh (strained yoghurt)
For a gluten-free version of the recipe, omit the breadcrumbs and serve with toasted, spicy almonds. I don’t recommend wholly leaving the crunchy element.
It really is the combination of the creamy, lemony butter bean mash with the garlicky mushrooms, earthy kale and spicy, crunchy crumb that makes this meal sing!
Butter Bean Mash with Sauteed Mushroom & Kale
- A food processor works best for the breadcrumbs and again for the mash. But you can stick to hand-torn breadcrumbs. Chop the almonds with a knife. And roughly mash the butter beans with a fork.
- A large pan – I use a 32cm (12 ½ inches) carbon steel pan.
Spicy Bread Crumbs
- 2 thick slices or heels of stale bread, such as sourdough or ciabatta, torn in chunks (roughly 100 grams or 2 cups once torn)
- 100 grams (¾ cup) almonds
- 8 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes, or more depending on spice tolerance
- ½ teaspoon ground sea salt
Lemony Butter Bean Mash
- 500 grams (3 cups) cooked and drained butter beans, the equivalent of 2 x 400 gram tins
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the dressing
- 1 large lemon, juice and zest separated
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon ground salt
Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale
- olive oil
- 8 medium to large portobello mushrooms, sliced thickly (about 650 grams)
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of the knife and sliced
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 large bunch (250 grams) kale, destemmed and roughly torn (approximately 180 grams once destemmed)
- black pepper
- Place the torn chunks of bread in a food processor and blitz until the bread crumbs are roughly almond-sized. Add the almonds and most of the thyme – reserving some thyme leaves to scatter over the plated meal – and blitz into a coarse crumb.
- Place a large, heavy large frying pan on medium-high heat to warm up. The pan will be reused for the sauteed mushrooms and kale. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the breadcrumb mix from the food processor. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Turn down the heat if the crumbs are toasting too quickly. It will crackle and start to smell like toasted almonds. Add the chilli flakes and salt and cook for a final 30 seconds. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and leave to cool completely.
- Rinse the food processor and add the drained beans along with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, ¼ cup cold water and 1 teaspoon ground sea salt. Make the butter bean mash by blitzing until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Mix the remaining lemon juice and zest in a small bowl with a glug of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set the lemon dressing aside until needed.
- Wipe clean the pan you used for the breadcrumbs. You will need to do the mushrooms in two batches. (Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven, see the notes for more information.) Place the pan on high heat to warm. Add a few glugs of olive oil. Add half the mushrooms to the pan with 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds and toss in the oil. Cook the mushrooms until they start to get some colour and lose moisture, roughly 5 minutes. If the pan becomes dry, add another splash of oil. Put the cooked mushrooms in a bowl and repeat with the remaining mushrooms and another teaspoon of cumin seeds.
- Once cooked, return all the mushrooms to the pan with the garlic and a teaspoon of salt. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and golden before adding the kale. You may need to add the kale in batches to make space in the pan. Season with more salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook, stirring every so often until the kale is wilted and the mushrooms smell fantastic while you start heating up the butter bean mash.
- Transfer the mashed beans to a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, stirring often. It should take roughly 5 minutes to warm through.
- Divide the butter bean mash between 4 shallow bowls or plates and top with a portion of sauteed mushroom and kale. Sprinkle over the crunchy breadcrumbs and the reserved thyme leaves. Drizzle with the lemon dressing and serve.
- If you don’t have a large enough pan, or you already have the oven on, you can also cook the mushrooms in the oven. Place the sliced mushrooms in a single layer on a baking tray. Cook for 40 minutes at 200 °C (390 °F) before adding to the pan with the garlic and kale.
- This is a great meal to serve guests. Most components can be made in advance and quickly cooked before dinner. This recipe serves four with a side salad. But if you have big appetites, make extra mash for a more generous portion. Or add a poached egg and some avocado slices.
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