Friday, August 19, 2011


I have come across quite a few people over the years who say they despise mushrooms.  I emphasized that word on purpose, for it's never a mild dislike.  If they hate 'em, it's with a passion!  I can't help but wonder though, if it's because they, like me, grew up on the slimy bits and pieces that came from a can.  Those aren't really mushrooms.

Once I was on my own, I graduated to the "fresh" variety, but that too is a relative term.  In those days the supermarkets carried only the generic button variety, which has no taste.  I usually bought them pre-sliced, and often left them in the fridge for several days, in their cellophane wrapper, until they were almost as slimy as their canned compadres.  Those aren't really mushrooms either.

Now, these here?  These are mushrooms!

These guys are one of my favorite things about the new farmers' market down the road from us.  They are from Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms in Gonzales, Texas, and come in a nice brown paper bag, which is the proper way to store them in your fridge.  Never store them in plastic bags.

These Baby Bellas are so meaty and delicious that they deserve much more than a bit part in someone else's show.  They deserve a starring role!  So I thought I would share this recipe with you.  It's a very simple recipe, not too fussy (always best when you are working with wonderful ingredients), and we found it to be quite tasty.

from Serving Up the Harvest, by Andrea Chesman

8 cups arugula leaves (other greens, such as watercress, can be substituted)
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound mixed mushrooms, quartered or cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 T. red wine vinegar
Freshly shaved Parmesan (use a swivel-bladed veggie peeler to shave off slivers)

  • Put the arugula in a large salad bowl.  Drizzle in 2 T. of the olive oil and the lemon juice.  Toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide among four salad plates or arrange on a large platter.
  • Heat the remaining 2 T. oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and let cook undistrubed until golden on the bottoms, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and thyme, stir, and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender throughout, about 4 minutes longer.
  • Stir in the vinegar and let cook until the vinegar is mostly absorbed.  Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the mushroom mixture over the arugula.  Top with a few curls of shaved Parmesan.  Serve at once.
Bon Appetit!

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