I have some what become obsessed with mushrooms. I bought a variety pack the other week and I can officially say, it has changed my life. I remember being the ripe age of 4 and my mum really having to try hard to disguise those ‘slimy buggers’ as I used to put it. It wasn’t the taste that bothered me, just their slippery, sliminess I just wasn’t ok with. It was like eating a slug, well, what I imagine a slug to be like, which to be perfectly honest, I really don’t want to think about.

Mushrooms are insanely high in selenium, vitamin C + D, plus protein and iron rich, so I can understand why my mum was so keen to chuck them in every vegetable soup or stew she could. As an active kid, even at that age, well actually, probably more understandable at that age, plus being predominately vegetarian, those good old hearty suppers with those god damn mushrooms in, were essential. I’m talking chopping them up lentil size, throwing them in to a veggie bolognese; which FYI, was DELISH. Over the years, my love for mushrooms grew and I know longer refer to them as slimy buggers, which I’m pretty sure is sounding weirder every time I say that. I used to stick to the old bog standard button mushroom and I’m really quite a snob when it comes to them. I try to only ever by them organic, mostly because of the pesticides in the soil the grow in, but also because the flavour is just uncanny. Up until a few years ago, I hadn’t actually tried oyster, shiitake or enoki mushrooms, the tropical sisters of the mushroom clan (lol).. but seriously. I guess they are slightly more unusual, seasonal and best served in some sort of Balinese or asian type dish.. that’s my personal opinion anyways.. you know, laksa’s n’ all that jazz (mmm).

Anywho, enough about mushrooms and my love for them and more about this hearty, warming mediterranean stew. The weather this week has been extremely tropical. 20+ degrees and sunny one day, 11 and rainy the next. As I mentioned in my last post I’ve been loving my salads lately, combining different grains, seasonal veg + experimenting with dressing a different hummus flavours. I also mentioned my lack of ‘night shade’ foods, which ironically are tomatoes, peppers and aubergine, all of which are in this dish. Now I’m not saying I’m never going to have this again, or in the next month, because I probably will. But, for the time being, I’m staying clear from those wondrous veggies just until my skin calms down; more about that coming soon. Just staring at the photos and writing this post has got me all kinds of jealous; especially to those of you who decide to make this today/tomorrow as we’re in for a wet n’ windy few days, well allegedly.. coz really, do they really know? I’m pretty sure the weather forecast changes by the hour. I’m a pretty keen bean at checking in on it, with 3 different apps to be precise. I mean I should probably give up home now, especially given that we are well into September and Autumn is truly on its way. To be honest, as much as I love Summer and it’ll always be my number one, there is something special about ‘sunny’ Autumn days. I mean I know it’s probably more grey clouds and rain than sun here in the UK, but I like to hold onto my Pinterest view of Autumn.

Now for that all important hearty stew, it’s all about those delicious herbs/spiced and I really am a sucker for over loading dishes with fresh herbs, so go wild kids.. or don’t, but I recommend you do. I will add, this is a veggie loaded stew, so do not be put off by the ingredients lists, it’s mostly vegetables and herbs, and, I promise you, so worth it!

What you’ll need: Serves 2
1 small white onion – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – crushed/minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme, basil
1 tsp saffron
Pinch dried chilli
Large handful of fresh parsley – chopped small
Large handful of fresh basil – chopped small
1/2 red pepper – sliced
1/2 yellow pepper – sliced
Large handful green beans – chopped
2 celery sticks – sliced
12 roma tomatoes – quartered
1 small courgette – bite sized pieces
2-4 large kale leaves – stems removed, roughly chopped
1 low salt stock cube
2 tbsp coconut aminos (low sodium tamari/soy sauce also works well)
2 tbsp tomato puree
800ml – 1L boiling water
1 large ear of corn or roughly 1 cup kernels
2 cups (roughly) lentil fusilli
6-8 oyster mushrooms
1/2 lime – juiced
Salt + pepper
Nutritional yeast
Sunflower seeds – optional

What to do:
1. In a sauce pan, sauté the onion and garlic in a little water until fragrant. Add the dried herbs, 3/4 of the fresh parsley and 3/4 of the fresh basil. Add a dash more water and continue to sweat until broken down.
2. Add the peppers, green beans, celery, tomatoes, courgette and kale. Add the water, coconut aminos, tomato puree and stock, stir well. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for around 10-15 minutes.
3. If you are using an ear of corn, boil in a separate pan, remove the kernels and add to the tomato veggie pot. If you are using frozen, add straight away.
4. In a separate saucepan, add the fusilli and boil for around 8 minutes. Double check the packet instructions as this can vary.
5. After around 10 minutes, add your oyster mushrooms to the veg pot and stir. Add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Once the pasta has cooked, drain and then add to the vegetables. Stir well, again, season to taste here.
7. To serve, dish into bowls, top with the left over fresh basil and parsley, nutritional yeast and sunflower seeds.

Notes: You could toast the seeds here but they are just as good as they are. A large dollop of coconut yoghurt also goes down a treat with this dish!