Mushroom Week: tasty little recyclers

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.

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