I love this time of the year, when the first of the new-season garlic begins to appear. While I might buy them just for their photogenic nature, it is their flavour that I truly admire. Through winter we've had to make do with those dry, hard garlic heads which can have a strong bitter flavour. New-season garlic is moist to the touch, the skin is soft and the cloves have a hint of sweetness to them.
The dish I've made is a simple combination of mushrooms, garlic and rosemary but the outcome is an explosion of flavour.
Garlic and Rosemary Mushrooms
500 grams button mushrooms, cleaned
4 cloves new season's garlic, peeled, sliced very finely
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
olive oil, choose a lighter flavoured oil
Make the infused oil:
Pour a cup of oil in a saucepan along with the finely sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs. Place on a very low flame and very slowly bring it up to barely simmering point - you don't want the garlic to colour at all and the longer this process takes the more flavours you bring out. After about 15-20 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool.
Prepare the mushrooms:
I used button mushrooms for this dish as they have quite a neutral flavour and so will take up more of the flavour of the oil - you could though replace some of the button mushrooms with Swiss Browns or Oyster mushrooms if you like.
Once you've cleaned the mushrooms, depending on their size, either cut them in half (if they are small) or in quarters. This just helps to even out the cooking time.
Complete the dish:
It's best to cook the mushroom in batches so you don't take the heat out of the pan and the mushrooms sauté rather than sweat.
Drizzle some of the infused oil in skillet along with a knob of butter and place on a medium heat - when the butter has melted and is sizzling add in a portion of prepared mushrooms and quickly sauté to colour. Remove from the pan and repeat the process with the remaining mushrooms. Once all the mushrooms have been cooked, return them to the pan - take the garlic and rosemary from the infused oil and add to the mushrooms. Continue cooking until the mushrooms soften.
Place the mushrooms into a serving dish - drizzle over with extra infused oil and finish off with a light sprinkle of chopped parsley.
I've served this as a pre-dinner bite that you can enjoy as is or with lightly grilled olive bread - you could also serve this as a side dish to a main meal.