Make Meatless Monday Magic with Mushrooms!
There is nothing like a new year full of magical mushroom possibilities! I feel exhilarated and hopeful after what always feels like a ‘layover from life’ holiday season, during which I ate a crazy number of mushroom-packed dishes that were nutritious, simple and delicious, like Angel “Eggs”, Mushroom Walnut Pâté, and Creamy Mushroom Lasagna.
Mushrooms can be the best supporting actor in a recipe or hold their own as the star of the show. The braised carrot dish I made for Thanksgiving, with a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau over the holidays, seriously rocked my world and it was laced with big chunks of, dare I say, “meaty” mushrooms along with the huge chunks of carrots. Unbelievably decadent and delightful.
Their variety of textures, savory yumminess, and versatility are unparalleled, as are their amazing health benefits. Throughout my holiday travels, including the Packer-Chiefs game with 80K fans, family gatherings and the weather rollercoaster, my immune system remained strong and robust! Score!
When eaten daily, or as often as humanly possible, you can reap the sublime sensation of feeling your best, feeding your healthfulness, and supporting your most energetic self all on the foundation of fabulous fungi.
You may have sensed that I’m a fan. I understand that some are not. Mushrooms can elicit the same love/hate emotions as cilantro or tofu, another of my favorite main dish swaps, and are culinary chameleons when draped in the technicolor world of sauces, spices and herbs.
Years ago, I had heard that we should never wash mushrooms under running water, to avoid soggy mushrooms. That always made me feel that they were a “high-maintenance” ingredient, and who but Rachael Ray (my ‘pre-plant-based’ cooking guru) has the time to lovingly wipe the dirt off each mushroom with a damp paper towel? I kid you not. I did it for years. I’ll admit, it decreased my desire to eat mushrooms as often as I would have liked.
I now rinse them briefly in a colander under cold running water and tussle them around quickly to loosen any dirt. Canned mushrooms in the pantry are great for those game time decisions when I don’t have any fresh in the fridge!
Most restaurants have mushrooms somewhere on their menu (check the burger toppings) and make an easy and comforting swap for meat in a burger, wrap or on a salad. When I order my cheese-less pizzas, mushrooms are always included and at a steakhouse, the sautéed mushrooms can become the main course over a baked potato with grilled asparagus. It’s all about creativity and options, my loves!
My go-to mushrooms are either baby Bellas (porcini), portobellos (the big ‘burger’ sized ones) or white button mushrooms. There are a great variety of other fancier types, but these are readily available and inexpensive compared to animal products or fancier mushrooms.
For our first Meatless Monday Adventure of 2024, try swapping mushrooms for another meat in a restaurant meal or create your own home-made masterpiece, like this absolutely craveable Mushroom Stroganoff. A glug of Marsala wine added during the sautéing creates a decadent and creamy Mushroom Marsala. Both can be served over mashed potatoes, pasta, polenta or even toast. You’re welcome!