TONY STAPLES: Use a little mushroom magic to beat the vegetable shortage

Mushroom risotto with oven roasted quail
Mushroom risotto with oven roasted quail

In the midst of a vegetable shortage, stay calm and carry on cooking with mushrooms. Executive head chef, Tony Staples, of the Arora Hotel in Crawley, has the perfect recipe for a crisis...

So, there is a shortage of vegetables on supermarket shelves? Don’t panic. If you can’t stock your fridge with courgettes and iceberg lettuce, there is always one of my favourite staples – cultivated mushrooms, available all year round.

A creamy mushroom risotto is guaranteed to raise a smile on a dull February day. Serve it on its own for a light lunch or vegetarian main course. Or for an elegant starter, team with roasted quail – now available in most supermarkets.

Add a few halved quail eggs for extra luxury.

We serve this dish in The Grill with a little cauliflower puree, some bacon crisps and a sprinkle of salad leaves. Remember not to wash the mushrooms under water – they simply need a wipe with a piece of kitchen towel.

To increase the depth of flavour, add a few drops of truffle oil.

One mouthful of this and your friends will soon forget there was ever a crisis going on in the vegetable aisle!

The Grill in the Arora is Crawley’s only AA-rosette restaurant and has recently retained this honour for the third year running. To book, phone 01293 530000. Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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Mushroom risotto with roasted quail

Serves 4 as a starter

2 whole oven-ready quail

Knob of butter for frying

1 large banana shallot – finely diced

Half a clove of garlic – crushed

Leaves pulled from three sprigs of thyme

100g Arborio (risotto) rice

100g mushrooms, sliced

300ml hot chicken stock

15g grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Few drops of truffle oil


Preheat an oven to 180 oC. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and fry the quail until brown all over.

Pop into a roasting dish and into the oven for 15 minutes. While the quail is roasting, melt a large knob of butter in a saucepan and sweat the shallot, garlic and thyme for a few minutes until beginning to soften. Add mushrooms, then stir in the rice to give it a coating of butter. Have the hot stock on a low simmer in another pan and add a ladle full to the risotto every few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is soft and has absorbed the liquid (15 minutes). Stir in parmesan cheese and add salt and pepper to taste, and a few drops of truffle oil.

Meanwhile, remove the quail from the oven once cooked. Leave to rest for a few minutes then joint into breast and thighs with a sharp knife.

To serve, spoon risotto into the middle of four plates and top each with a quail’s breast and thigh. Drizzle with the juices from the roasting pan.

Chef’s tip

Quail can be eaten slightly pink but if it’s too pink, add the joints back to the frying pan for 30 seconds to brown.

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