Wild Mushrooms Monmouth County NJ Asbury Middletown Livotis
Oct 22, 2018

Let’s Talk About Wild Mushrooms

By MaryAnn Miano

Wild Mushrooms Monmouth County NJ Asbury Middletown Livotis

Mushrooms are possibly the most mysterious of all plants, living on the dead bodies of plants and trees to help in the decaying process by breaking down the dead plants’ material as food. Many species of mushrooms flourish in autumn due to cooler, wetter weather. Growing in the October woods, mushrooms rule the forest.

Mushrooms are very different from every kind of plant we know, in their origin, their shapes, the rapidity of their growth, the shortness of their life, their ways of reproduction, and their great numbers. Of course, if rummaging for wild mushrooms, please be sure of what you’re looking for – some species are poisonous.

While eating a fungus might not sound very appetizing, a mushroom is quite the tasty addition to any savory meal.  A simple sauté with onions and olive oil makes a great side, or use mushrooms for more elaborate gourmet meal preparations. The earthy, musky kick of a mushroom dish is more than about taste, however. Mushrooms also supply some worthy nutritional value to your dishes.

Low in calories and sodium, mushrooms have no fat or cholesterol. They add to the bulk needed in our diet with a carbohydrate called “chitin.” Mushrooms also provide us with B vitamins such as riboflavin and niacin, and they are a great source of selenium and potassium. Oyster mushrooms are a good source of iron. Some people find that mushrooms such as Portobello can substitute as the meat to their meal.

The wonderful mushroom can also convert sunlight into vitamin D in much the same way as our skin does. No other plant is capable of such a feat! Some mushrooms have been studied for their ability to boost our bodies’ immune function. Mushrooms increase the production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells while they are trying to protect and repair the body’s tissues and defend against invading microbes. Crimini and Portobello mushrooms are known for their antioxidant boost.

Try the following recipe, featuring shitake and oyster mushrooms, as a savory meal for a cool, fall evening:

INGREDIENTS

• 1 cup farro or farro piccolo

• 1 bunch medium mature spinach (about 8 ounces), stems trimmed

• Kosher salt

• ½ cup olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

• 2 medium shallots, peeled, halved lengthwise

• 2 garlic cloves, crushed

• 2 sprigs thyme

• 2 bay leaves

• 4 tablespoons unsalted, roasted peanuts, divided

• 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, torn into bite-size pieces

• 8 ounces oyster mushrooms, torn into bite-size pieces

• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

RECIPE PREPARATION

• Soak farro in 6 cups cold water in a large bowl for 1 to 2 hours (this will help it cook more evenly and in less time).

• Meanwhile, cook spinach in a large pot of boiling, generously salted water until just wilted and bright green, about 45 seconds. Immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice water and swish around in water to cool down as quickly as possible. Drain spinach and gently squeeze to remove excess liquid.

• Blend spinach, ¼ cup oil, and ¼ cup water in a blender on low to break down spinach, then increase speed to high and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids. Cover and chill spinach purée until ready to use.

• Drain farro and place in a large saucepan along with shallots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until farro is tender but still al dente (you don’t want grains to burst), 12 to 18 minutes. Drain, discard aromatics, and return farro to saucepan. Set a few peanuts aside for serving; coarsely chop remaining peanuts and add to farro.

• Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss both mushrooms and ¼ cup oil in a medium bowl. Spread out in a single layer on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet (this lets heat circulate all around and helps the mushrooms crisp instead of steam). Season with salt and roast until mushrooms are browned, soft, and crisp around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then return to bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice; set aside.

• Add 3 Tbsp. water to farro and gently reheat over medium-low until just warmed through. Remove from heat and mix in just enough spinach purée to coat grains (you don’t want the mixture to be saucy; you’ll have some sauce left over), then remaining 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. Drizzle with oil; season with salt.

• Spoon farro into shallow bowls and layer mushrooms over top. Drizzle with a little more oil; finely grate reserved peanuts over top.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit.