We now know that mushrooms are tasty little buggers, adding earthy flavor and filling texture to all kinds of recipes. Nutritional science has also revealed that they are decent sources of B vitamins, copper, and selenium, and a few varieties even boast surprisingly large amounts of vitamin D. But I sometimes wonder, before all that, who first saw a bulbous fuzzy growth atop a pile of decomposing matter and thought, “That belongs in my mouth?”
Maybe we shouldn’t think about that too much, actually; my job of extolling their dietary virtues would become more difficult if we’re fixating on terms like “gilled fungi” or “spore-bearing fruiting body” (thanks, Wikipedia). Instead, let’s focus on melty risotto, savory pancakes, and the recipe that saved my relationship with veggie burgers: pecan mushroom burgers with gorgonzola sauce.
Was it the mushrooms that sealed the deal on those burgers? Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is I followed the relatively easy recipe with a few tweaks – farro instead of bulgur, gorgonzola in the sauce instead of bleu cheese, because both were what I had on hand – and I *finally* got patties that tasted great and didn’t look like they’d been through a wood chipper. After so many disasters that I was going to just hang up the spatula, this recipe was a welcome rescue. They even got high praise from Mr. Skeptical About His Wife’s Vegetarianism, who said they were tasty and filling.
A little less spectacular was the farro risotto with mushrooms. Not awful, by any means, just not awesome enough to justify the hour+ of my life I gave up to make it. Then again, I cheaped out and didn’t make the mushroom stock, using regular vegetable stock instead. Maybe I’d be more impressed with a stricter following of the recipe next time.
Want to see if the fungus among us can impress you? Here’s a week’s worth of mushroom recipes to try:
- Cider apple chicken with mushroom sauce, from Fuss Free Cooking (here)
- Farro risotto with mushrooms, from Cooking Light (here)
- Mushroom scallion pancakes, from Not Eating Out in New York (here)
- Parsnip, mushroom and leek gratin, from The Kitchn (here)
- Pecan mushroom burgers with bleu cheese sauce, from Eating Well (here)
- Portabello asparagus strata, from Whole Food Recipes (here)
- Shrimp and mushroom curry, from Steamy Kitchen (here)
And if you want to see the trash-converting magic of mushrooms for yourself and get several crops to use in your cooking, I’d highly recommend Back to the Roots’ mushroom kit. I was lucky enough to win one in a giveaway from Eating Rules, and it was really cool to see those silvery oyster mushrooms grow from nothing more than old coffee grounds and some water.
I stopped by their booth at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival where they told me about a cool promotion: buy a kit, post a photo of your crop on their Facebook page, and they’ll donate a mushroom kit to a school of your choice. A fungal two-fer – who doesn’t love that?
Disclaimer: BTTR didn’t request, sponsor, or otherwise have any inkling of this mention of their mushroom kit.