Posts Tagged ‘family cooking’

Transform Mushrooms Into the Main Attraction

On hectic weeknights, quick and hearty meals are a must for busy families. Instead of racing through the preparation of an intricate dinner, seek a simpler road and kick your favorite side dish recipes up a notch by adding mushrooms. Most often, even the most humble of side dishes can become a savory main attraction when a few hearty mushrooms are added to the mix.

In addition to adding flavor and heartiness that can’t be beat, mushrooms provide a great alternative to meat in virtually any recipe. No defrosting necessary! Below are just a few ways to makeover “side dishes” into hearty, mushroom-filled meals:

  • Taco Salad – Mushrooms and meat blend together to create a savory filling in this better-for-you combo the entire family will gather around.
  • Couscous with Mushrooms and Herbs – With the help of some pantry staples, this hearty and filling couscous recipe is transformed into a standout dish thanks to the addition of mushrooms.
  • Mushroom Feta Quinoa Risotto – You won’t miss the meat in this vegetarian risotto! Accented by meaty mushrooms and feta cheese, this dish is hearty enough to shine on its own.
  • Grilled Mushroom Cobb Salad – The addition of grilled portabella mushrooms brings this traditional cobb salad from side to center stage of your dinner plate.
  • Rustic Mushroom Tart – A simple and savory mushroom tart makes a big impression and is hearty enough to be served as the main event.
  • Mushroom Brie Quesadillas with Mango Papaya Chutney – A mix of exotic flavors, these out of the ordinary quesadillas offer a twist on a simple dish and offers more than enough flavor to stand on their own.

For more Mushroom Makeover inspiration, check out our dedicated Mushroom Meal Makeovers for 2014 Pinterest board. How will mushrooms be spicing up your dinner?

Featured Contributor: Yaki Shiitake from La Fuji Mama

Editor’s Note: Rachael is the inventive home chef behind La Fuji Mama. Now a mother of two, many of her dishes take inspiration from the time she spent living in Japan. While she’s no stranger to mushrooms (the Japanese diet are rich with them), this is her first post for the Mushroom Channel. Check out her recipe below but make the jump over to her main site when you’re done!

Yakitori, a dish of chicken threaded on skewers and cooked over a charcoal fire, is one of those foods that I start to crave when the weather turns sunny and warm. With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I decided it was time to break out the bamboo skewers and make some. Instead of making the traditional chicken skewers, I used fresh shiitake mushrooms and sliced scallions. Shiitake mushrooms, a native fungi of Japan, have a rich meaty and slightly smokey flavor. These mushrooms are fat free and a great source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Grilling them brings out their wonderful meaty flavor. You’ll find you won’t miss the chicken!

This is also a great way to introduce kids to shiitake mushrooms. I’ve found that kids are more receptive to anything served on a stick. Case in point—when my three year old saw we were making yakitori, she got very excited and told me, “I want some!” She didn’t even know what we were putting on those skewers!

Yakitori, a dish of chicken threaded on skewers and cooked over a charcoal fire, is one of those foods that I start to crave when the weather turns sunny and warm. With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I decided it was time to break out the bamboo skewers and make some. Instead of making the traditional chicken skewers, I used fresh shiitake mushrooms and sliced scallions. Shiitake mushrooms, a native fungi of Japan, have a rich meaty and slightly smokey flavor. These mushrooms are fat free and a great source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Grilling them brings out their wonderful meaty flavor. You’ll find you won’t miss the chicken!

When you are buying shiitake mushrooms, look for mushrooms that are plump, firm, and clean, and avoid any that have wet slimy spots on them or are wrinkled. They can be stored in the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag for about a week until you are ready to use them. Making the skewers is easy. You simple clean the mushrooms and discard their stems, and wash and cut the scallions into pieces. Then you thread the mushrooms and scallions onto the skewers. Make sure to soak your bamboo skewers beforehand so that they do not burn. Fresh shiitake mushrooms mushrooms are soft, so do not squeeze or push too hard. If you are having difficulty pushing the skewer through a mushroom, gently rotate the skewer as you are trying to push it through.

When you have finished putting the skewers together, you brush them with a tiny bit of vegetable oil and then set them on a preheated grill, with the mushrooms facing gill side up. You can also cook these skewers under the broiler. If you do this, make sure you start by cooking the skewers gill side down.

When the skewers have finished cooking and you are ready to serve them, brush them with a bit of tare (a slightly sweet and savory Japanese basting sauce) and serve them. They make a fabulous appetizer or side dish for a Spring or Summertime menu.

Yaki Shiitake (Shiitake & Scallion Yakitori)

Makes 8 skewers

For the tare (basting sauce):
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup mirin
¼ granulated sugar

For the skewers:
16 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, preferably donko
1 bunch scallions
Vegetable oil

1. Make the tare: Put the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking over low heat for 20 minutes. Skim any scum off the surface as the sauce is cooking. Set aside.

2. Make the skewers: Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes. Preheat the grill. Clean the mushrooms with a slightly damp paper towel or cotton cloth, then cut away and discard the stems. Cut the firm white and whitish green parts of the scallions into 1 ¾ inch lengths.

3. Thread two mushrooms (lengthwise through the mushroom caps) and two pieces of scallion onto each skewer, alternating between the mushrooms and scallion pieces. Brush the mushrooms and scallions with a light layer of vegetable oil.

4. Place the skewers on the grill, with mushrooms facing gill side up. Cook the skewers until the tops of the mushroom caps are dry. Turn the skewers over (mushrooms gill side down), and cook them until the insides become wet with the mushrooms’ own juice. Turn the skewers over (mushrooms gill side up) one more time and cook for about 1 or 2 minutes more until the mushrooms and scallions are completely cooked through.

5. Remove the skewers from the grill, and with a pastry brush, baste them with the tare. Arrange the skewers on a large plate and serve.
Yakitori, a dish of chicken threaded on skewers and cooked over a charcoal fire, is one of those foods that I start to crave when the weather turns sunny and warm. With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I decided it was time to break out the bamboo skewers and make some. Instead of making the traditional chicken skewers, I used fresh shiitake mushrooms and sliced scallions. Shiitake mushrooms, a native fungi of Japan, have a rich meaty and slightly smokey flavor. These mushrooms are fat free and a great source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Grilling them brings out their wonderful meaty flavor. You’ll find you won’t miss the chicken!