I think the unexpected flavours here are delicious. You will need to be brave when grilling the scallions as it is crucial to leave them under the grill for long enough for them to both tenderize and colour sufficiently. I like the green ends of some of the scallions to be cooked until quite charred. As this dish is being served as a starter in this meal, I have allowed just half an egg per serving. If you would like to serve this as a lunch or supper dish you could serve one egg per person and instead of the hard boiled egg suggested here, I sometimes served a soft poached and that too is very good.
- 24 fat scallions trimmed of any tired outside leaves ( I leave the root end on)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 180g flat mushrooms coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 8 anchovies, 4 chopped and 4 left whole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 50g coarse sourdough breadcrumbs
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 2 hard boiled eggs shelled and each egg halved lengthways
Preheat the grill element in your oven, or failing that preheat an oven to the maximum heat possible. The direct heat of the grill produces the best result. Toss the scallions in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and place under the grill. Cook them until completely tender by which time some of the scallion ends will have become slightly charred. This is crucial for the finished flavour of the dish. This takes about 7 minutes under my grill, it might take longer but unlikely to take less time in yours. I turn them with a tongs 3 or 4 times during the cooking to ensure a good result. When the scallions are sufficiently tender and coloured remove from the tray and allow to cool at room temperature, though they are very good served warm.
Toss the breadcrumbs in the olive oil and spread in an even layer on the tray the scallions were cooked on. Place under the grill or in the hot oven and allow to become crisp and coloured to a hazelnut shade. This is only a matter of minutes. I usually turn them once or twice during the cooking. Be vigilant here as they will crisp and colour quickly. Once ready remove and keep aside.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the mushroom. Season with salt and pepper and fry until juicy and cooked. Tip them along with any cooking juice into a food processor and allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes. Add the chopped anchovies and blend. Add the oil and water and blend again to achieve a puree that does not need to be completely smooth. Taste and correct seasoning.
To assemble the dish place a knot of 6 scallions on each plate. Place a dessertspoon of the mushroom puree on top followed by ½ a hard boiled egg and a whole anchovy. Sprinkle over some pan gratatta and finish with a small drizzle of excellent olive oil.