That haul of button and crimini mushrooms can be the cornerstone of many cozy autumnal dishes. Mushrooms are meaty umami bombs that can easily absorb any flavors you add to them. Plus, they’re an affordable powerhouse in the kitchen, especially when you’re looking for a meat swap. Here are six of our favorite ways to showcase the versatility of that package of mushrooms sitting in the back of your fridge.
Turn them into bacon.
Transform floppy, fading mushrooms into something smoky, sweet, and salty. In a bowl, whisk together two tablespoons of soy sauce, two tablespoons of neutral oil, a tablespoon of maple syrup, and a ½ teaspoon of liquid smoke. Thinly slice your ’shrooms, toss them in the mixture until well coated, then spread them out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast at 375° for about 30 minutes until the mushrooms are deeply browned with crispy edges. This plant-based bacon is the perfect topping for cobb salads, a buttery baked potato, or a hot cheesy panini.
Butter, garlic, and a heap of mushrooms are the building blocks of a perfect steakhouse-style side dish. Trim the stems off a pound of mushrooms, then throw them in a baking dish with half a stick of cubed butter and lots of minced garlic. Generously drizzle everything with olive oil to keep the butter from burning, then bake at 450°F for 15 to 20 minutes — or until your home is filled with the aroma of garlicky mushrooms. Before serving, shower the mushrooms with freshly chopped parsley and a splash of fresh lemon juice. You’ll want to make sure there’s crusty bread on the table to sop up all that buttery goodness at the bottom of the dish.
Make them meaty and French.
Traditional French pâté relies on chicken or duck liver, but let me make a case for mushrooms. They’re the ultimate vegetarian swap, absorbing flavor like a sponge. Start by soaking a cup of walnuts in hot water to soften them. Next, in a large pan over medium-high heat, sauté a pound of sliced mushrooms and a minced shallot in three tablespoons butter and a tablespoon of olive oil until golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. Whir together the cooked mushrooms with the drained walnuts in a food processor or blender, drizzling in a splash of red wine vinegar and some fresh thyme, and blending until smooth. Transfer to a cute jar or bowl, and you can serve the pâté right away with sliced baguette and an icy martini, or stash it in your fridge for up to a week.
Stuff them into tacos.
Chicken tinga is a flavorful Mexican braise that’s served in tacos and as a topping on tostadas. You can swap the bird for earthy mushrooms without losing any of the stewy, saucy satisfaction of this dish. Sauté a large diced onion and 3 cloves minced garlic together in neutral oil in a large pot until softened, about 5 minutes. Then pour in a 15-oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 to 2 chiles in adobo, and a big pinch each of oregano, salt, and pepper. While the sauce simmers for about 20 to 30 minutes, sauté a pound of sliced mushrooms over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the sauce, and let everything cook down together for 8 to 10 more minutes, allowing the flavors to marry. Tinga always tastes better the next day, so it’s ideal for meal prep or your next taco night.
Let them shine in risotto.
Italians have made it clear that the best risottos include umami-rich mushrooms. Risotto is traditionally made by adding hot chicken or vegetable broth to arborio rice, one ladleful at a time, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft. By stirring constantly, you end up with velvety rice. Once you’ve done the above and the risotto is a perfect al dente (that should take about 20 minutes), throw in as many mahogany-hued sautéed mushrooms as you want. Pro tip: Skip all that stirring and dig out your Instant Pot and throw in 4 cups broth, 1 cup arborio rice, fresh thyme, and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Lift the lid and slide in the sautéed mushrooms. You’ll end up with perfect risotto minus the elbow grease. However you cook your risotto, serve it the moment it’s done with a generous grating of Parm on top for an extra hit of umami.
Stew it into speedy bourguignon.
Cold nights demand hearty dishes like French beef bourguignon, made famous by Julia Child. Subbing in mushrooms honors all the decadent flavors of this beefy classic in a fraction of the time. In a large pot with a good glug of olive oil, sear 2 pounds sliced mushrooms. Remove them from the pot; add in a diced onion, two diced carrots, and three cloves of minced garlic; and sauté until just softened, about 6-8 minutes. Return the mushrooms back to the pot along with a cup of Burgundy wine, a few cups of vegetable broth, a spoonful of tomato paste, and a couple sprigs of rosemary. Simmer gently for half an hour until the sauce reduces and thickens. Finish with a few tablespoons of butter to give the stew a glossy texture, and ladle on top of creamy mashed potatoes or buttery pasta for a rich meal that feels like a big hug.
Photographer: Paul Quitoriano
Food Styling: Cesar Aldrete
Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros