March 22, 2010

mushrooms: the other white meat

Let's count the months, shall we, since I've had anything meat-related?

I have had a total of five bites of meat or fish since Thanksgiving, two of which were given to me by my grandmother (thanks for pushing that prime rib on me, Nan, it was the best I've had) and the other three, mussels in a saffron-infused white wine reduction from one of our favorite east Austin bistros. Of course, I'm excluding the organic salmon I had in NYC the night Ryan proposed.

So that brings us to a veggie-versary of... four months this week.

Adjusting really hasn't been that difficult; in fact, I have really enjoyed it. But I'm still not completely sold on "meat replacements."

Tofu? I only like it in some instances. These include, and are likely limited to: deep-fried (popcorn tofu po'boy at Wheatsville Coop), stir fried, and as a component to the always-popular hot-and-sour soup.

I wouldn't have made it this far without the help of veggie burgers, though (the best of which I had in NYC at some fun Irish pub near Times Square; my favorite here in Austin is the Veggie Ends Burger at Billy's on Burnet). Seitan and I have not yet come to speaking terms. I'll eat it (vegetarian chili comes to mind), but I am not a fan of the texture.

All this to say, mushrooms rock.

They pack a nutritional punch, with vitamin D, some B vitamins, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, and zinc among the naturally-occurring benefits.

And here's the real kicker: their flavor can come across as, well, meaty.

Grilled portobellos? Yes, please. Sauteed button mushrooms in red wine and butter? I'll melt. And this week: what can only be described as a very close replica to beef stroganoff. My first words upon tasting it were, "Tastes like Hamburger Helper." Which is actually a compliment, considering I LOVED Hamburger Helper growing up. Seriously. It was, like, my favorite junk food. That and Funyuns. Together.

I digress. Let's call this dinner...

Farfalle with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup fresh parmesan, grated
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth or white wine
1-2 teaspoons dried herbs, to taste (rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme)
8 ounces farfalle pasta (rotini or linguini would also work)
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Put a pot of water on to boil, and cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and olive oil on medium- to medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic, cooking until onions are translucent and soft.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they reach the desired tenderness (ours came out a little "al dente;" if you want very tender mushrooms, just keep cooking). Add stock and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Multitask: drain the pasta and set aside for a few moments while you finish the sauce.

Add the cream cheese and parmesan to the mushroom mixture, and stir until it is well incorporated. Once all the cheese has melted, add the spices and pasta and mix well.

Serve immediately, with a spinach salad on the side!

Note: I was going to make this recipe, but didn't have heavy cream on hand. Plus, I was hoping for a little healthier option. But that's where the general idea came from.


Elizabeth said...

I might say that P Terry's has the best veggie burger in town, but I haven't had the Veggie Ends Burger. And I made tofu last week by broiling it in the oven, and it was much much better than previous homemade experiences. And I love Pei Wei's tofu. Yuum.

I do love a good mushroom, but sadly Jason does not. The recipe sounds good though - I may have to make it if he goes out of town or something.

amber said...

Elizabeth, the P Terry's veggie burger is great, but something about the patties they make at Billy's sends the veg burger into a whole new level. It's very substantial and really feels like a meat burger. They have like 4 different versions, from a mushroom burger to the classic topped with sprouts and avocado (can I say, "side of ranch"). That's my normal Friday-night indulgence! :) Plus it's a fun little beer joint but family-friendly too.

But about the recipe--it comes together so quickly and keeps really well. Ryan ate it the night I made it, but I had it for lunch twice this week. So maybe you could make it just for you! :)

Sam Ahern said...

Eggplant is another great "meaty" vegetable. Sauteed or grilled fat slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just had some the other night with homemade tomato sauce. Oh but mushrooms. Yes, I totally agree!

~Molly~ said...

Oh yummo!!! I have two non-shroomers but the other three of us would inhale this! Maybe they'll have to eat pb&j when I make this.