Eat your mushrooms
A few months ago while walking down a gravel road in Umbria, I met an elderly woman while she was getting onto her bike. Her basket was filled with diverse mushrooms, none of which I could identify. We engaged in a conversation about her mushroom foraging which she does after a rainfall and the earth is warm enough to encourage spores to sprout mushrooms. I marveled at her skill and confidence, since only 4% of over 10,000 varieties of mushrooms fall into the "safe to eat class". Her mushroom identification surpassed mine. Her mushroom identification skill was passed down from generation to generation in her "hood". My mushroom identification was limited to the varieties I find in my local farmer's market or supermarket in a city far removed from little forests in mushroom loving Umbria.
Despite my deprivation, I still love mushrooms.
In my "Italian" kitchen, there are a host of uses for mushrooms: sauces for pasta and gnocchi, additions to risotto, or dishes like baked mushrooms, grilled marinated mushrooms, or mushroom salad, when mushrooms run solo. And, don't forget the perennial cocktail nibble: stuffed mushrooms.
I highly encourage mushroom eating. Aside from all the wonderful health benefits such as selenium, copper, vitamin d and b vitamins, low carbs, low calorie, no fat, the meaty, earthy flavor of mushrooms can make for a wonderful addition to meals. Perhaps you'll try this winter favorite, passed down from my mother, "Lydia" and served on Thanksgiving along with the other trimmings .
1 lb mixed wild mushrooms (cremini, white button, portebello) cleaned and woody stems removed
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced basil
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup or more plain bread crumbs
1.After cleaning, cut the mushrooms into bite sized pieces. Make a marinade by tossing the herbs, garlic, vinegar and oil in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Try tasting one to check the seasonings. If you need more, add more.
2. Place the mushrooms with the marinade in a baking pan. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the tops and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
3. Serve warm or room temperature.