Serious Eats: Recipes

Fun-Guy Mushrooms

[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]

Choosing among the local vegetables in the Whole Foods produce section Saturday morning did not exactly threaten to cut into my afternoon plans. What with the whole tundra trend in my region these past few months, I suppose a certain echoing quality to those hallowed aisles is to be expected. Still, there's been a lot of enticing talk about planting and even eating baby spring veg in the national glossies and the West Coast food blogs recently, and I'm starting to feel a little gray by comparison. (My long-distance subscription to Sunset Magazine, borderline unhealthy and stalkerish to begin with, has really been rubbing salt in that particular wound.)

If a girl has got to feel gray, it's at least some consolation that the singular option among local vegetables coordinates with her color scheme. And mushrooms have a lot to recommend them beyond their neutral, sympathetic hue. Long recognized as powerhouses in both the nutrition and taste departments, they can also be a lot of fun. Especially when you spike them with brandy and light them on fire.

Like fun guys on college campuses the world over, there's little they won't do after that kind of hazing. They'll top polenta, rice, pasta, potatoes or crostini. They'll make a rich sauce for chicken or steak. They'll fill an omelet or a small tart shell. They'll even stand up as a side-dish on their own.

Compared to that other type of fun guy, however, these fungi also boast a certain level of decorum and subtlety. I'm just sayin'.

About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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