I was a vegetarian for years, and when I craved a "meaty" texture I always turned to mushrooms. I used to only cook with them for their flavor and texture, but I've recently learned more about their nutritional value...which is pretty impressive! For starters, they are one of the only natural sources of vitamin D, which is valuable if you live in a foggy city. Mushrooms are also becoming famous for their immune boosting properties, and are often given in pill or tincture form to boost the body's own defense systems. Reishi for example, are being researched for their ability to prevent tumor growth. What's not to love?
If you want to know more about mushrooms, I recommend stopping by Far West Fungi in the Ferry Building. Their employees are super knowledgeable and helpful, and you can find many wild varietals that aren't usually grown in the U.S. Also, one of my favorite local food bloggers recently posted an entry about truffles that you can find here.
Mushroom and barely soup-recipe after the jump
So, if you're craving that umami mushroom taste tonight you can try one of these recipes. I love making mushroom and barely soup on cold days. Barely has a unique ability of warming you up, and satisfying you when you're craving comfort food.
Or, if you're hosting a dinner party (or wanting to try out your pastry dough skills) you can make this less healthy, but equally delicious mushroom crostata. I made this for New Year's Eve and it went pretty quickly! If you have a favorite mushroom recipe, or if you take mushroom supplements for any reason, please share in the comment box! Happy eating.
The cooling mushroom and pancetta crostata
Mushroom and Barely soup
recipe adapted from ReadyMade
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1-2 carrots diced (to match the onion)
1 clove of garlic, mined
1 lb mixed variety mushrooms (your choice) sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 c red wine
2 T soy sauce
1/2 c pearl barley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 c vegetable stock (one 32 oz box)
3 T flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Heat olive oil and butter in a large, heavy-bottom stock pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until they have released their juices and are browned.
Add red wine and 1 tbsp soy sauce. Cook stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half. Add barely, thyme, and bay leaf, sautéing for 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock and bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour.
Before serving, remove thyme stems and bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle stew with chopped parsley before serving.
(In this recipe I added a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach 4-5 mins before serving in order to add a few greens)