Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mushroom Extravaganza!

We've finally received a fridge, but we're still eating fungus. Lots of fungus, actually. Mushrooms around here are really inexpensive and, because they're a great source of protein, they have recently been replacing meat in many of our dishes. For instance, I've been on a Mediterranean food binge lately and found a great recipe for lemon-chicken couscous on the back of the couscous package (how clever of them!), but I left out the chicken in favor of some hearty little mushrooms. These generic, white fungi made the perfect palette for the delicately spiced couscous and had a pleasing texture without any of the nasty raw chicken preparation steps.
I bought a 1lb. package of mushrooms, but the recipe only called for 1 1/2 cups of protein, so I took the remaining mushrooms and sauteed them in olive oil with a pinch of salt and a bunch of cheap red wine. The $5 wine imparted a lot of flavor (especially when we drank it!) for only a little money while choosing olive oil over butter for sauteing kept the mushrooms a little lighter and, incidentally, vegan. In fact, the whole meal was totally vegan: lemon-dill couscous, merlot mushrooms, store-bought pita slices, and homemade hummus. The only unfortunate thing about this meal is home monochromatic is was: everything was in shades of brown! If (well.. when) I recreate this meal, I'll add some color to the hummus -- maybe some red pepper flakes and lime zest for a little visual appeal. I'll also probably skip the extra, sauted mushrooms in favor of a small salad or some other greens (maybe asparagus or sweet peas). See the bottom of the post for recipes.

Another recipe that called heavily on mushrooms came in the form of a scrumptious, meatless stroganoff. Served over brown rice (from our new rice cooker!), I combined the leftover dill from the couscous (and another recipe) with some other ingredients to make a smushy, delicious meal. Mine turned out a little dry, mostly because I thought the mixture looked too thin in the pan, so I cooked off more liquid. Bad idea. The mushroom mix definitely continues to thicken after you take it off the heat. It was still great tasting, but I ended up adding a little more sour cream to my served meal to make the texture a little more pleasing. Not a failing, but something to look out for. Despite the small amount of dryness, TheBoy really dug this stroganoff and it went along perfectly with the remainder of the white wine and some steamed, sweetened carrots. The carrots were a sort of last minute motivation: I realized that the meal had no veggie complement, so I used the rice cooker's steaming basket to quickly steam some peeled, sliced carrots. Making the rice cooker multitask served two great purposes -- it helped me to save time and effort (no extra pot to wash, no stove-steaming operation to keep an eye on, etc) and helped to conserve energy by using the energy from the already cooking rice. Yay for no waste!

Lemon-Dill Couscous:
Prepare couscous according to package directions.
With only 3 minutes remaining to cook, add ~2 tablespoons lemon juice and ~1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Hummus (adjust ingredients to your palate):
1 can chickpeas with some of the juice
~1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1-2 crushed cloves of garlic
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Stick it all in the blender/food processor and spin 'til it's smushy and delicious

Mushroom-Dill Stroganoff:
1 lb. mushrooms
enough oil to saute mushrooms
1/3 cup white wine (we used a very sweet moscato because actually enjoy sweet white wine, not the dry stuff that would've been leftover had I followed the directions exactly)
1/2 teaspoon dill, chopped (I definitely used a little more than that! Make sure it's well chopped)
1 cup sour cream
some carb to serve it over (egg noodles are classic, but brown rice, orzo, penne, etc all work as well. Just be sure to choose a short carb, as opposed to spaghetti or linguine, so that the mushroom mixture stays with the pasta)
salt and pepper to taste (duh!)

Saute the mushrooms, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and dill, stirring until the liquid cooks down to about 1 tablespoon (it happens fast! look out).
Turn heat to low and add sour cream. DO NOT LET IT BOIL, just stir gently until heated through being careful not to overcook. The mixture will thicken after you serve it.

1 comment:

confiance said...

That all looks really yummy. Which is saying something as I a) hate mushrooms and b) hate carrots.

Couscous, on the other hand, needs to start entering my tummy more often.