Feasting On Fall Mushrooms

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Savoring Woodland Treats

As soon as the refreshing rains return, woodland mushrooms are right behind them. Both white and pale golden, apricot scented chanterelles are inspiring a series of mushroom-centered dishes this week, from yummy breakfast omelets to hearty dinner casseroles. My hot mushroom sandwich has also proven popular in several versions, especially the Hot Brown (my particular favorite, this week, anyway).

However, I’ve also learned that over-indulging in mushrooms can cause digestive disturbance. While mushrooms are high in many healthful nutrients, from vitamins to protein, many fungi are also high in hard-to-digest cellulose and mycochitin. Indeed, most raw mushrooms are all-but-indigestible for humans. Uncooked mycochitin in particular can trigger notable and even dangerous digestive issues for people with IBS and other digestive difficulties.

Cook Them Well

Other biochemicals found in raw mushrooms include hydrazines, which are thought to be carcinogenic. Fortunately, they are heat sensitive, so cooking eliminates them, and also breaks down the mycochitin. Thus, careful cooking is especially important when mushrooms are included in a dish.

If mushrooms give you digestive problems, you may be sensitive to mycochitin and/or other biochemicals. Thorough cooking may resolve that problem, but you may also need to limit your exposure to cooked mushrooms and avoid raw mushrooms entirely. That said, mushrooms are in good company even here, since other foods that also give those with sensitive tummies trouble include broccoli, onions, garlic, cabbage and tomatoes, all super foods with multiple health benefits to balance the possible problems. All these foods are most digestible when cooked, so when in doubt, cook them well or leave them out!

Fresh Pasta With Leeks and Mushrooms

10-12 ounces fresh pasta (any)
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 leeks, chopped (light green and white parts only)
1 teaspoon stemmed fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups chanterelles or any mushrooms, sliced in ribbons
2 teaspoons drained capers
1/2 cup organic cream
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a wide shallow pan, heat oil and butter over medium high heat. Add leeks, sprinkle with thyme and salt and cook until tender (8-10 minutes). While it cooks, cook pasta according to package directions. Add mushrooms and capers to the leeks, reduce heat to medium, cover pan and cook until soft (8-10 minutes). Add cream and season to taste with paprika. Serve hot over pasta. Serves 4.

This next dish features the most insanely delicious carrots I’ve ever eaten, leading to spoon fights amongst those who were intent on hogging all the crispy topping. Perhaps your family will be better behaved…

Mushroom Casserole With Caramelized Carrots

1/2 cup short grain brown rice
2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups sliced white or brown onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup very thinly sliced slim carrots
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
4 cups sliced chanterelles or any mushrooms
Kernels cut from 1 ear fresh corn
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour (or any)
1-1/2 cups dry white wine or vegetable broth

Cook rice according to package directions. While it cooks, heat half the oil and half the butter in a saute pan over medium low heat. Add half the onions, half the garlic, and half the salt and cook until tender (10-12 minutes). Stir in carrots, reduce heat to low and cook until caramelized (20-30+ minutes). Meanwhile, combine remaining oil and butter in a larger pan with remaining onion, garlic, salt, fennel seed, and olives over medium high heat and cook until tender (10-12 minutes). Add corn and rosemary, cover pan and cook until heated through. Stir in flour, then slowly stir in wine or broth, stirring often as mixture thickens. Layer rice and vegetable mixture into a casserole dish, ending with a rice layer. Top with caramelized carrots and bake at 350 degrees F. until bubbling (25-30 minutes). Serves 4-6.

Creamy Mushroom Omelet With Pumpkin Seeds

1 teaspoon safflower or avocado oil
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 cups sliced portobello or chanterelle mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

In an omelet or frying pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  Add green onions, mushrooms, and salt and cook until soft (6-8 minutes). Pour in egg mixture and swirl to coat pan. Shake pan lightly, then gently pull back cooked eggs with a spatula to allow runny, uncooked portion to run underneath the cooked part. When center of omelet is lightly set (1-2 minutes), sprinkle with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds, reduce heat to low, cover pan and cook for 1 minute. Gently fold omelet in half, slide onto a plate, and serve warm. Serves 2
Veggie Hot Brown Sandwich

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 ripe tomato, thickly sliced
freshly ground pepper
2 slices whole grain bread
2-3 ounces sliced extra sharp cheddar cheese (or any)

In a frying pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and cook until soft (10-12 minutes). Sprinkle tomato slices with salt and pepper, set aside. Toast bread, cover with sliced cheese and toast again until slightly melted. Top each piece of toast with sliced tomatoes and mushroom mixture and serve hot. Serves at least one.

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2 Responses to Feasting On Fall Mushrooms

  1. Rex Lee Carlaw says:

    Dear Ann, Thank you for your column in the Kitsap Sun. Really enjoyed the blackberry article. I assume “native dewberries” are what we usually call the native blackberries — I confirmed this in a berry book I bought in B. C. this summer though you don’t actually state it. My late father liked to raise berries and had some large dewberries which were like a logan or marion or boysenberry in size though he thought they had the best flavor. Is that an enhancement of the native dewberry or just reusing a term? –Rex

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Rex,

      Hard to say just what your Dad was growing; there have been quite a few crosses made between our native dewberry (yes, also called native blackberry) and other blackberries and raspberries. Lots of fruit-loving folks collect as many varieties as they can find and grow them all. If you still have ccess to your dad’s plants, take a few berries in to your local fruit club and/or a local independent nursery for positive ID. Hope that helps!

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