Omar Allibhoy's Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Mushrooms

I have always been a big fan of mushrooms in all their forms – from taking long walks with family to pick wild mushrooms, to cooking them in many ways at home. This recipe is packed full of tastiness.
by: 
Omar Allibhoy

INGREDIENTS

Serves 6 as a Tapa

  • 150g (5oz) Wild Mushrooms, such as oyster, or a mixture of field mushrooms
  • 50ml (3½ tbsp) Olive Oil
  • ¼ small Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • A splash of White Wine
  • 30g (2 tbsp) Butter
  • 30g (3⅔ tbsp) Plain (All-Purpose) Flour
  • 400ml (1¾ cups) Whole Milk, hot
  • A pinch of grated Nutmeg
  • 15 tinned Piquillo Peppers
  • 400ml (1¾ cups) Double (Heavy) Cream
  • 50g (½ cup) grated Cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping
  • Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
  • Bread, to serve

METHOD

Trim the mushrooms, removing the stalks, and wipe them with a damp cloth. Roughly chop. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat and fry the mushrooms for at least 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper, stir well and season again. Fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic, thyme and cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute.

Lower the heat to medium and add the butter. Let it melt, then add the flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the flour is lightly toasted. Add the hot milk, little by little, and the nutmeg, whisking until you have a smooth and silky white sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan, until the sauce has thickened. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill completely in the fridge. After at least 2 hours, the béchamel should be firm and ready to handle.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

Bring 3 of the piquillo peppers, the cream and cheese to the boil in a small pan over a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Use a hand blender to blend until smooth.

Using a spoon, fill the remaining 12 piquillo peppers with the mushroom béchamel. Lay them in an oven dish and pour the piquillo sauce on top. Scatter some more grated chese over the top. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned and crispy on top. Serve with bread.

Spanish Made Simple: Foolproof Spanish Recipes for Every Day by Omar Allibhoy of Tapas Revolution (Quadrille £20) Photography: Martin Poole