The Simple Art Of Cooking: Mushrooms!

I’m not about to give up meat, yet, more and more I’m thinking mushrooms. In light of media attention regarding health and the negatives of eating meat – the numerous variety of mushrooms with their earthy flavors and unusual textures from robust, steaklike portobello (really overgrown creminis), the delicate and whimsically shaped oyster mushrooms, the exotic chanterelles, the domestic whites and the very flavorful and popular shiitakes, are all delicious alternatives to meat.

The other night I sautéed thin slices of shiitake mushrooms with garlic and parsley to serve as a side vegetable; quick, easy, toothsome and delicious! Not liking to waste anything, I made a broth of the mushroom stems with a bit of chopped shallot, black peppercorns and a bay leaf to add to the sautéed mushrooms. You could simply use store bought low-sodium broth. Marinate and weight down thinly sliced Portobello mushroom caps in olive oil until tender and juicy. Then serve them with arugula and shaved Parmesan for a wonderfully satisfying salad course. A favorite pasta dish is freshly prepared fettucine with shiitake mushrooms in a creamy sauce.

Mushrooms, nutritious and an excellent source of fiber and the B vitamin niacin may not make the meal, but it is wise to explore the variety of textures they offer along with their depth of flavor. Shiitake mushrooms have been known to dramatically lower cholesterol.


If you are tempted to forage for wild mushrooms, go out with an expert, unless you want to play Russian roulette.



Quick, easy, delicious!

Serves 3 to 4

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 – 1/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth or half and half

3 to 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley


1. Remove mushrooms stems and discard or reserve for stock. Place mushroom caps in a colander and rinse quickly under cold running water. Dry very well with paper towels and thinly slice caps. Set aside.

2. In a 10 to 12-inch sturdy non-stick skillet heat the oil and butter over medium heat. When butter melts and foam subsides add the mushrooms; and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until barely tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add broth and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes longer to reduce liquid by half. Toss with chopped parsley. Serve hot.



The name carpaccio refers to ingredients sliced paper-thin. At Carpaccio restaurant in Bal Harbour, Florida, large Portobello mushrooms are thinly sliced lengthwise and marinated to a silky consistency to serve in a salad. Please note the mushrooms are marinated for 3 days.

Serves 4


3 large Portobello mushrooms

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 bunch arugula, washed and spin-dried

Reggiano Parmigiano sliced thin

2 lemons cut into wedges


1. Cut mushroom stems level with the base and peel top of mushroom cap by lifting the edges and pulling off with fingertips. Place mushrooms in a large colander and rinse quickly under cool water. Transfer to paper towels and pat dry.

2. With a sharp knife cut mushrooms across the width into paper-thin slices as best you can to achieve at least 3 slices crosswise. Layer slices with olive oil, salt and pepper between layers in a non-reactive pan such as Pyrex. Cover with plastic wrap and weight the slices down with a heavy object, such as a filled coffee can, and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 days.

3. Arrange room temperature mushroom slices on a platter over arugula greens and pour the olive oil over. Top with thin slices of Reggiano Parmigiano and a squeeze of lemon.


Serves 4 to 5


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2-3 shallots, finely chopped

1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed, rinsed clean and thinly sliced

1 cup cream or 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley plus extra for garnish


For the pasta

1 pound fresh or “fresh store-bought” fettucine

Kosher salt for the cooking water


1. In a skillet, heat oil and butter and when butter melts add the shallots. Sauté over medium heat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until opaque. Add mushrooms, toss to coat and sauté about 3 minutes longer tossing occasionally. Add cream, or cream and broth mixture and let reduce about one third to thicken slightly. Season mushrooms to taste with salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Add parsley and stir to mix. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary. Keep warm over low heat.


2. Meanwhile, fill a 5 to 6-quart pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil. Put in the pasta all at once. Stir the pasta with a large wooden spoon or pasta fork to separate strands and return to the boil. If the pasta is very fresh it will cook in about 30 seconds. If it is dry (even if pasta is homemade and has been stored for more than a few weeks) it will take up to 3 to 5 minutes to cook. Add a few tablespoonfuls of pasta cooking water to the sauce then drain pasta in a colander. Just before pasta is drained, place several spoonfuls of the warm sauce on a heated serving platter. Transfer pasta to warm serving platter.


3. Pour mushroom sauce over the pasta and toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve.

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