The mushrooms are cooked with lots of butter and herbs and then served warm with the most soothing topping. You can prepare the mushrooms and barley ahead of time, then heat them up and add the lemon, feta, and herbs at the last minute. Try your hand at preserving lemons if have the patience. Otherwise, seek them out at a shop or online site specializing in North African food. —Yotam Ottolenghi
6 as a starter
medium onion, finely chopped
clove garlic, finely chopped
vegetable or chicken stock
pearled barley (heaping)
preserved lemon, flesh removed and skin finely chopped
First cook the barley. Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the barley, lower the heat, then cover and simmer for 1 hour, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is tender.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Take a large baking sheet and grease it heavily with two thirds of the butter. Scatter the thyme sprigs over it. Stem the mushrooms and place the mushroom caps, stem-side up, on top of the thyme. Pour over the wine and stock and scatter the sliced garlic over. Dot each mushroom with a couple knobs of the remaining butter, then season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Leave them in their cooking juices until you are ready to serve.
When the barley is done, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the preserved lemon, feta, parsley and thyme. Taste and add salt and pepper. To serve, reheat the mushrooms in the oven for a few minutes, if necessary. Place each mushroom, stem side up, on a serving plate. Scoop the barley on top and spoon some the mushroom cooking juices over. Garnish with basil sprouts and drizzle over the olive oil.
Yotam Ottolenghi owns an eponymous group of four restaurants, plus the high-end restaurant, Nopi, in London. He writes for The Guardian, and appears on BBC. Sami Tamimi is a partner and head chef at Ottolenghi. Authors of the New York Times bestseller Jerusalem and the runaway hit Plenty, they have been featured in the New York Times, Saveur and the Los Angeles Times. They Live in London.