Four marvelous mushroom recipes for spring

Baked Mushroom Topped Brie (Mushrooms Canada)

Baked Mushroom Topped Brie (Mushrooms Canada)

Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:05 PM ET

Just recently I've been enjoying mushrooms in a variety of meals. And I've been expanding my curiosity about the various mushroom types available at my local supermarket. From the sweet looking white button mushrooms to the exotic enoki, the delicate shiitake and the mouth-watering crimini. The king oyster has a lovely woodsy flavour and a pleasant chewy texture and the portabella's the perfect stand-in for steak.

In everything from breakfast, lunch, dinner and even to snacks, mushrooms make for marvelous mouthfuls of flavour.

The versatility of what you can create with this humble fungi is endless and you're only as limited as your imagination to what you can blend, bake, chop, saute and serve. Plus, mushrooms are low in everything, including calories, carbs, cholesterol, sodium and fat. Yet they're big on essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

According to Mushrooms Canada there are well over 100 mushroom farms across Canada with half the production in Ontario and the rest in British Columbia, the Prairies, Quebec and the Maritimes.

Mushrooms have that secret ingredient known as umami, or the elusive fifth taste. Gourmands say umami defies description, but do say it is caused by the interaction of glutamates, a naturally occurring amino acid, with receptors on the tongue, which literally floods your mouth with flavour! Something to chew on when you look over the following delicious recipes courtesy of Mushrooms Canada (mushrooms.ca).

Baked Mushroom Topped Brie

Prepare and chill the mushroom topping to have on hand for spur of the moment entertaining. Baking and serving on oven-proof platter keeps the cheese warm while eating.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. (250ml) fresh sliced mushrooms (white or crimini)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) coarsely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 large clove garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. (2ml) Each dried thyme, rosemary and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (200g) wheel cold brie cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) finely minced fresh parsley or chives (optional)

Directions:

Finely chop mushrooms, onions, walnuts and garlic, thyme, rosemary and pepper in food processor. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir mushroom mixture for 5-7 minutes or until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in vinegar and cook 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature; cover and chill. At serving time slice the wheel of Brie in half horizontally and place cut side up on oven-proof serving plate or baking pan. Spoon the topping evenly on cut surfaces of Brie. Bake in 350ºF/180 ºC oven for about 8-10 minutes or until cheese is beginning to melt. Sprinkle parsley or chives on top to garnish if desired. Serve with thinly sliced whole wheat baguette or plain crackers. Makes 12 servings.

Tip: To barbecue, place cheese on presoaked cedar plank and barbecue, covered over medium–high heat for 8-10 minutes.

Mushroom Soup Au Gratin

This looks like French onion soup but has the rich mushroom flavour instead of onion. It is almost a meal itself so just add a salad and dinner is ready.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
  • 12 oz sliced assorted fresh mushrooms (375 g/ 6 cups/1.5 L)
  • (White, crimini, portabella, shiitake, oyster)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups (1.5L) chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) finely grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 tsp. (1ml) Each ground nutmeg and pepper
  • 4 slices French bread (1/2"/2.5 cm thick) toasted
  • 4 oz. (120g) grated or sliced Swiss cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

In a large heavy saucepan heat oil over medium high heat; sauté mushrooms, onions and garlic about 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add chicken broth, lemon rind, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20 to 30 minutes.

Ladle soup into 4 deep ovenproof bowls. Float bread on top; sprinkle with Swiss cheese and Parmesan if using. Place under broiler until bubbly and lightly browned.

Makes 4 servings

Variation: Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine with chicken broth.

PBLT Salad

The favourite combination of bacon, lettuce and tomato tops baked portabella mushrooms instead of bread for a light lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, halved
  • 4 large fresh portabella mushrooms (340g) stems removed
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) olive oil
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. (1ml) Each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) crumbled Chevre cheese
  • 1 large tomato, sliced into 4 thick slices
  • 2 cups (500ml) mixed greens (mesculin, arugula, baby spinach)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) slivered red onion
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) balsamic vinaigrette
  • Garnish: chopped fresh basil (optional)

Directions:

Place bacon in single layer on one end of large rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 425F (220C) for 3 minutes. Meanwhile brush both sides of mushrooms with oil. Remove baking sheet and place mushrooms stem side down on other end of baking sheet. Bake for 4 minutes. Then remove baking sheet again and turn mushrooms over stem side up. Sprinkle evenly with basil, salt and pepper. Top each mushroom with 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) of goat cheese and a slice of tomato. Return to all to oven for 4-5 minutes longer or until mushrooms are soft and bacon is cooked. Meanwhile, toss greens and red onion with vinaigrette.

Drain bacon on paper towels. Place mushrooms on individual salad plates. Top each with 2 slices of bacon. Spoon salad mixture on top. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired and serve while warm. Makes 4 servings.

Tips: For ease of clean up, line baking sheet with parchment paper.

For convenience omit cooking bacon slices and use pre-cooked bacon slices or 1/4 cup (60 ml) of pre-cooked bacon pieces.

Substitute 8 thin slices of pancetta for the 4 slices of bacon. It cooks faster so just bake it with mushrooms for about 6-8 minutes or until crisp. Pancetta is Italian bacon that is not smoked and is available in the deli section of the grocery store.

Baked Mushroom and Leek Risotto

This is an easy version of the classic Italian recipe. Mild flavoured leeks combine with wonderful woodsy shiitake mushrooms to create a delicious treat. Serve with a green salad or as an accompaniment to veal or chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 1 leek
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups (500ml) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (250ml) Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) dry white wine or broth
  • 1/4 tsp. (1ml) salt
  • 1/8 tsp. (.5ml) freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz. (250g) fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) table cream (18%)
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/3 cup/75ml)

Directions:

Cut dark green tops and root off leek; halve lengthways, wash and thinly slice. Heat 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) oil in a large, deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until leeks are soft. Meanwhile, bring broth to boil in a medium saucepan over high heat or in microwave. Stir rice into the leek mixture; cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Stir in wine, salt and pepper; cook about 1-2 minutes. Transfer mixture to covered 2 qt (2 L) oven –proof casserole or baking dish. Stir hot broth into rice mixture; cover and bake in 400F (200C) oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove stems from mushrooms*. Wipe caps with a damp cloth and slice. Heat remaining1 Tbsp. (15 ml) oil in same skillet or saucepan over medium- high heat. Add mushrooms, cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until just lightly browned. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

Remove risotto from oven; stir in cream, mushrooms and parsley. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls and serve immediately garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Makes 2 main course or 4 side servings

* Trimmed stems may be reserved and simmered in broth for soups or stews

Variation: A mixture of shiitake, oyster and crimini mushrooms may be used if desired. Tip: Arborio rice is a short-grain rice imported from Italy used specially for risotto.


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