Italian style baked cheesy mushrooms

8 thin slices good-quality ciabatta bread or a few carta di musica (music bread) broken up into rough pieces
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic , peeled and finely sliced
8 rashers higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon , roughly chopped
a few sprigs fresh thyme , leaves picked
4 good handfuls mixed wild mushrooms (such as chanterelles, girolles, blewits and morels)
1 dried chilli
125 g scamorza or buffalo mozzarella ball
2 handfuls rocket , washed and spun dry
2 heads dandelion , washed and spun dry
2 handfuls watercress , washed and spun dry
½ lemon
1. What’s brilliant about this dish is that it’s a kind of woodland dinner, made from a bunch of wild mushrooms and weeds from the wood. Serve it as a nice autumn supper with a lovely glass of Chianti, or as a starter for a dinner party.
2. Don’t worry if you can’t get hold of wild mushrooms – this works just as well with chestnut or field varieties. You can find scamorza, a delicious smoked mozzarella, at Italian delis and most supermarkets, but a good-quality buffalo mozzarella works just as well.
3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Heat a griddle pan and toast the ciabatta slices until they have lovely dark griddle marks. Tear up the toasted bread into chunks or, if using carta di musica, break up into pieces and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Get yourself a medium-sized earthenware dish, drizzle it with a little olive oil then add the seasoned, toasted bread.
4. In the same bowl you used for the bread, add the sliced garlic, chopped bacon and thyme leaves, then tear over the mushrooms, leaving any little ones whole. Crumble in the dried chilli, then use your hands to toss everything together and get all those wonderful flavours going.
5. Sprinkle this mixture fairly evenly on top of the bread, then tear over big pieces of the scamorza. Give the whole lot one final drizzle of olive oil, and put it in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes, until the mushrooms are beginning to crisp up and the cheese is melted, bubbling and starting to brown.
6. While that bakes, wash and dry the salad leaves, and make a simple dressing by squeezing the juice of half a lemon into a jam jar. Top with twice as much extra virgin olive oil, and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Put the lid on and give it a good shake, then put it to one side.
7. Once the mushrooms are ready, drizzle some of your jam-jar dressing over the salad (any leftover dressing will keep happily in the fridge for a few days). Serve your beautiful, baked mushrooms and salad in the middle of the table and let everyone dig in..
Buon Appetito!

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