I really have a thing for mushrooms.
It’s real, and it’s deep, and it isn’t going away.
I think it’s the texture – when they’re cooked right, they do this mouthable, earthy, flavor thing that I crave often and ferociously.
I so, so dearly love mushrooms.
I’m not alone on this. When the Klingon and I we were just beginning to date, my roommate and best friend (later Maid of Honor) declared loudly and emphatically that she detested mushrooms; that they made her vomit, that they were disgusting, and she would never, ever eat them. I laughed, and the Klingon turned to me and asked what my feelings were.
I replied neutrally – I didn’t have an opinion (which was odd, because I always have an opinion); they were alright, nothing special. You see, I had not yet discovered the magic that is a perfectly prepared mushroom.
He has since disclosed to me (which I share with all of you in only the strictest of confidences) that, had I responded differently, we would not be married today.
And that, my friends, is the true story of how a Klingon fell in love with a Vulcan.
Just kidding. That story is a mystery; even to me.
Since that time, he has introduced me to many different varieties of mushrooms, prepared in a plethora of ways. I know crave them bi-monthly, and I try to keep them on hand because you just never know when that craving will hit.
So, in the spirit of sharing, I give you a piece of advice and a recipe, to help you on your quest.
First, the hint:
NEVER, never never, store your mushrooms in their original packaging, unless that packaging is a paper bag. If it isn’t, then put them in a paper bag immediately. Put that paper bag on a shelf in the fridge. Turn around three times, close your eyes, and blow your mushrooms a kiss. Close the door.
You’re welcome; now your mushrooms will never get slimy. They will dry out long before they go bad, and you will be able to use them even then (dried mushrooms are a thing of wonder and a joy forever).
And now, my go-to recipe, when I am craving mushrooms like there is no tomorrow, but am not in the mood to just sauté them alone (I’m a one-pan dinner kind of a girl. Besides, one does not eat sautéed mushrooms alone; even when those mushrooms are dripping in garlic and butter. That is simply too much awesome on one plate, and must be diluted.). Note that this recipe is adaptable, hence the inordinate number of footnotes.
Mushroom Rice Pilaf:
1/2 Onion, Chopped
1 Bell Pepper* (Orange, Yellow, or Red), Chopped
All the mushrooms you have hanging around (I usually use around 10-14 mushrooms), sliced or quartered.
1 T. Vegetable Oil
1.5 c. Rice**
3 c. Water
Better Than Bouillon*** – Mushroom Base****
Better Than Bouillon – Chicken Base****, low sodium
1) Prepare vegetables; sauté in a pot until soft (I use a 3.5 quart enameled dutch oven, but use whatever can contain the awesomeness).
2) Add rice; stir until the rice is covered in oil and mushroom juice.
3) Add water; stir in a dollop of both the mushroom base and the chicken base (approximately a tablespoon of each, but no need to be specific).
4) Heat on medium-high until the water begins to simmer. Bring to low, cover for approximately 20 minutes.
5) Fluff with a fork, and serve.
I hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable time with your families this weekend. Happy Independence Day!
*The bell pepper is optional. I like bell peppers (though never green ones), but if you prefer something else, more vegetables, or nothing in it’s place, then that will work fine.
**Sometimes I use quinoa, which is also a delicious choice.
***Better than Bouillon is a fantastic brand that I have had tremendous success with. I like it because it is easy to store, and I can use it in whatever ratio is convenient. If you are considering a substitution based on what you have on hand (or what is less expensive), then that won’t be a problem. Note that I use about 2x more bouillon base than is required for the amount of water I add to the rice.
****The types of bouillon are also adaptable; Sometimes I use only mushroom, sometimes I make it vegan and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and sometimes I use only the chicken broth. If another flavor sounds good, try it!