For those adjusting the amount of meat they have in your diet, but still craving substantial flavor, I suggest mushrooms. Mushrooms adapt well to their dishes, creating a meaty sensation. Seldom do you find a dish negatively dominated by their flavor. Each mushroom has its own distinctive ‘earthy’ quality, but the taste truly varies full spectrum: from the bold and meaty shiitake to the soft, woodsy flavor of white buttons to the rich and almost creamy morel. Some people are turned away from mushrooms due to their smooth, spongy texture. Cooking them will alleviate many of these concerns. They add a hearty tone to your sauce, side, or main dish.
Before cooking them, make sure to always wash all the remaining dirt off your mushrooms. Do not be afraid to use the stems as well as the buttons; though make sure that the bottom stems are not too tough. Mushrooms can be forgiving during the cooking process, which is good news for many new cooks. Make sure not to crowd them while cooking, giving each a space on the hot pan. Use them in place of or alongside chicken, beef, seafood, pasta, or rice.
The mushrooms and white cream sauce I made over pasta was a quick, savory meal that was made mostly with things already in my pantry. Even without any meat, the meal was filling and satisfying. The buttery cream sauce balances the aromatic earthiness of the mushrooms. Add a splash of white wine or lemon juice for an entirely new facet of flavor. This is the basics recipe, add and experiment at you leisure!
Mushrooms and Cream Sauce
2 T olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T water
About 8 cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced
2 T butter, unsalted
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
1. In a 9 in skillet, heat 2 T olive oil over medium high heat.
2. Add onions and garlic, cook for about 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
3. Add mushrooms, making sure that they are not crowded. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until mushrooms are fork-tender.
4. Add butter, cream, and parmesan to skillet, stirring frequently to coat mushrooms and achieve creamy consistency. About 2 minutes.
5. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley.
6. Serve over angel hair or spaghetti. Garnish with more parmesan and fresh parsley.