Food 2020 – Recipes (Stuffed Mushrooms; Salt-Baked Beetroot with Whipped Ricotta, Apple and Hazelnut; Roast Squash and Plums in Garlic, Ginger and Chilli)

October 2020 – Recipes (Stuffed Mushrooms; Salt-Baked Beetroot with Whipped Ricotta, Apple and Hazelnut; Roast Squash and Plums in Garlic, Ginger and Chilli)

The thing about the new normal is that I end up with all sorts of unexpected vegetables in the weekly fruit and vegetable box I get to save me having to trek out in search of veg to keep us healthy. It does lead to a certain amount of frantic furtling about in the recipe books and online to decide what to do with them to also keep us interested. This has become somewhat more difficult in the throes of the great building project, but here are three I found recently that I can heartily recommend to anyone with a glut of beetroot, mushrooms or squashes!

Stuffed Mushrooms

This came about because of the fruit and veg man at the local Farmers’ Market. I’m not sure how he manages it, but this time every year he offers for sale mushrooms that are roughly the size of dessert plates, and very, very tasty. The dish here is quick, easy and delicious and you can probably use any cheese you like that is suitable for grating and maybe even some that aren’t.


  • 4-6 medium-large portobello mushrooms
  • 125 grams unsmoked bacon lardons
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 50 grams medium cheddar, grated


  1. Heat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Wipe the mushrooms to remove any dirt, then turn upside down and remove the stalks. Place on a baking tray top-side down.
  2. Fry the lardons for 8-10 mins until just starting to crisp up, then finely chop the shallot, mushroom stalks and garlic. Add to the bacon and fry on a moderate heat for about 5 mins until all the ingredients are cooked.
  3. Take off the heat and add the breadcrumbs and sage, then stir to make an even mixture. Spoon into the hollows of the mushrooms and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  4. Bake for approximately 8-10 mins until the cheese has melted. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

Salt-Baked Beetroot with Whipped Ricotta, Apple and Hazelnut

I had never salt-baked anything before, though I’d eaten salt-baked root vegetables at various restaurants including Frog. It’s a lot easier to do than I’d expected, although the dough takes some effort to manipulate into the shape you need. The results are fabulous, a soft, salty beetroot that is somehow MORE beetrooty that it would be with other cooking  methods. It’s time-consuming in that it needs a long slow spell in the oven, but you can get on with plenty of other things in the meantime. My beetroot came without any tops, so I managed without that, but otherwise stuck to the recipe.

I found this recipe on the Great British Chefs website, which I also recommend to you all!


For the salt-baked beetroot:
  • 1 kilogram plain flour
  • 300 grammes of salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 200 millilitres of water
  • 1 bunch of lemon thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 kilogram beetroot, leaves trimmed, washed and reserved
For the garnish:
  • 1 apple
  • 250 grammes of ricotta
  • 1 pinch of fine salt
  • 1 pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 handful of hazelnuts, toasted and crushed
  • 1 pinch of lemon thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 handful of beetroot leaves


  1. Preheat an oven to 160ºC/gas mark 3.
  2. In a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt and egg whites, then add the lemon thyme leaves and water and mix into a dough. Bring the dough together with your hands, then roll out to a centimetre thick on a work surface.
  3. Lay the beetroots in the middle of the dough, then pull the dough up around the beetroots, sealing at the top to form a parcel.
  4. Bake the beetroots for two-and-a-half hours in the oven, then remove the dough and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Slice the apple into matchsticks and keep in cold water with a little lemon juice squeezed in – this helps to crisp up the apple and stops it from discolouring. Put the ricotta in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and beat it with a wooden spoon to aerate and loosen it up.
  6. When the beetroot dough has cooled, break it open and remove the beetroots. Peel them carefully with a knife and slice them into chunks.
  7. Spread the whipped ricotta over a platter and top with the beetroots. Scatter over the apple, a few more lemon thyme leaves and some crushed hazelnuts. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and arrange the reserved beetroot leaves over the top.

Roast Squash and Plums in Garlic, Ginger and Chilli

Of the three recipes here, this is an absolute stunner. It’s deep, delicious, warming and fruity and I loved it. We had it with a steak from Côte on Sunday and it will also go with The Sausageman’s bratwursts tonight. I shall make this again, though I may skin/peel the squashes first (depending on the variety). I part prepared this and got as far as the add the plums stage on Friday, and on Sunday I finished it off in the oven.


  • 2-3 small-medium squash (such as kabocha, blue Hokkaido, sweet dumpling, acorn or butternut), halved, deseeded and cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of root ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 8 plums (such as Blue Tit or Victoria), left whole


  1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C F/Gas 6. Place the squash wedges in a large roasting tin and trickle over the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning once, until the wedges are almost tender enough to eat.
  2. Combine the chilli, garlic, tamari, honey, ginger and pumpkin seeds in a bowl.
  3. When the squash is ready, remove the tray from the oven and add the plums. Spoon the tamari and ginger mixture over the plums and squash, give everything a shake and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the plums are just beginning to break down and the squash is completely cooked through.
  4. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with brown rice, if wished.

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