Ragoût of Wild Mushrooms and Baby Vegetables

This dish has no formal set of ingredients, and what I give you is a guideline. It should be entirely seasonal, a combination of what is best at the market.

The trade in baby vegetables has turned a little silly recently. Cauliflowers and cabbage are no better small than normal sized, just a lot more expensive. But do not be put off by this trendy bandwagon: baby carrots and leeks are exquisite.

Ingredients

  • 8 baby artichokes
  • salt
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch baby carrots
  • 4 oz (100 g) slender French beans
  • 4 baby leeks
  • 8 small asparagus spears
  • 8 oz (225 g) broad beans
  • 4 oz (100 g) mange-touts
  • 8 oz (225 g) mixed wild mushrooms (chanterelles, morels, black trumpets, etc)
  • a knob of unsalted butter

To Complete

  • 5 fl oz (150 ml) double cream

Method

  1. Cut the outer leaves from the artichokes, then trim down to the choke. Boil in salted water and the lemon juice to cover, about 20 minutes if they are small. Rinse in cold water then use a teaspoon to remove the hairy fibrous part from the middle.
  2. Skin the tomatoes by immersing in boiling water for 10 seconds and then peeling. Cut them into quarters and scrape away the seeds.
  3. Cut the greenery from the carrots and peel them (peel very thinly, or scrub very hard if they are really small). Top and tail the French beans, mange-touts and leeks. If you can’t get baby asparagus, cut off the stalks of normal spears. Pod the broad beans and then drop the beans in boiling water for a few seconds. Refresh them in cold water and peel away their skins.
  4. Scrape as much grit as possible from the wild mushrooms, especially the morels, which often have little stones inside. At the last minute, wash the mushrooms in plenty of cold water and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
  5. Bring about 10 fl oz (300 ml) water to the boil in a good-sized saucepan. Salt the vegetables rather than the water. Put them into the water in the order they need to be cooked – carrots first, then leeks, then French beans and broad beans, asparagus and mange-touts last. The process shouldn’t take more than about 7 or 8 minutes, and the mange-touts shouldn’t cook more than a minute or two.
  6. Sauté the wild mushrooms with a little butter in a frying pan, about 3 minutes.

To Complete

  1. Lift out the vegetables and mushrooms, and divide them between soup dishes with the tomato and artichokes.
  2. Boil the cooking liquor and the pan juices from the mushrooms together with the cream for a few minutes to amalgamate, and spoon this over the ragoût. Serve at once.
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