Neither fruits nor vegetables, fungi are in a culinary category all their own.
These woodland wonders are nutrient-dense — a portobello has as much potassium as a banana — and range from dainty and delicate in taste (behold the beech) to rich and meaty (hail the proud porcini).
Magic them into autumn dishes, and savor every cap and stem.
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This velvety soup elevates the humblest of mushrooms: button or cremini, which are both inexpensive and easy to find (and related — they’re actually different varieties of the same species).
White or yellow miso pumps up their earthiness without overwhelming them, and white pepper (in place of sharper black) lends a subtle floral nuance. Coconut milk keeps the whole affair vegan, so it’s welcoming to all.
COCONUT-MISO MUSHROOM SOUP
12 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 scallions, white and light-green parts chopped (½ cup), tops thinly sliced on the bias for serving
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (from a 1½-inch piece)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon white or yellow miso
2½ cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
Cook mushrooms and 1 teaspoon salt in a large, dry saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms collapse, darken slightly and most of moisture cooks out, 12 to 15 minutes. Add oil and chopped scallions; cook until scallions are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in ginger, garlic and miso and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.
Reserve 2 tablespoons coconut milk, then add the rest to a blender with mushroom mixture (work in two batches, if needed). Purée until very smooth, about 2 minutes, removing blender cap and covering hole with a folded kitchen towel to allow steam to escape. Return mixture to saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. If a thinner soup is desired, stir in more broth, a little at a time. Season with salt and white pepper and serve, drizzled with remaining coconut milk and topped with fried mushrooms and scallion tops.
Note: To make the optional fried mushrooms for garnishing, heat a generous slick of vegetable oil in a small, heavy-bottomed skillet, such as cast iron, over medium. When it shimmers, carefully add a handful of thinly sliced mushrooms. Cook, flipping once, until they shrink and darken slightly, and bubbles along the edges subside. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
Total time: 30 minutes; makes 4 to 6 servings.
In a hearty play on Thanksgiving stuffing, portobello caps join the bread from classic recipes, absorbing flavor from the sweet sausage and fennel and giving the savory side dish surprising depth. It can be made (up until the last step) a day ahead, and help you check one major dish off your turkey-morning to-do list.
For a vegetarian take, skip the sausage and swap in vegetable broth.
PORTOBELLO, SAUSAGE AND FENNEL DRESSING
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for dish
14 ounces potato sandwich bread (14 slices)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped (1 cup), plus inner leaves for serving
1 small fennel bulb, cored and coarsely chopped (2 cups), tender fronds reserved for serving
1 pound portobello-mushroom caps (about 4), halved and cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1½ cups turkey stock, preferably homemade (see note) or low-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 2½- to 3-quart baking dish or 9- by 13-inch casserole dish with butter. Shingle bread on a rimmed baking sheet, then bake, flipping once, until golden and very dry, about 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut into approximately 1¼-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, breaking into bite-size pieces, until browned in places but not cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread.
Heat butter and remaining ¼ cup oil in skillet over medium. When butter melts and foam subsides, add onion, celery, fennel and mushrooms; season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender but no color has developed, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread mixture along with sage, thyme, parsley and 1 cup stock; season with salt and pepper and gently toss to combine. Whisk eggs with remaining ½ cup stock. Pour over bread mixture and gently stir to combine. Transfer to prepared dish. Cover with buttered parchment, then foil.
Bake 35 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until top is crisp and golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve, topped with fennel fronds and celery leaves.
Note: A recipe for homemake stock may be found online at marthastewart.com/gibletstock.
Active time: 30 minutes; total time: 2 hours, 5 minutes; makes 8 to 10 servings.
This jewel-toned salad can shake up the holiday table or star in an elevated lunch.
Sturdy shiitake and oyster mushrooms are seared in a dry pan (as the top chefs do it, for a lighter, less oily finish and more robust flavor). They stand up easily to bitter chicories, quick-pickled shallots, toasted hazelnuts, pomegranate arils and anchovy paste (skip it for vegetarians). And the mild sweetness of white balsamic vinegar ties everything together.
WARM MUSHROOM-AND-CHICORIES SALAD
½ cup raw hazelnuts
2 small shallots, sliced into rounds (½ cup)
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ounces oyster mushrooms, separated into individual trumpets
5 ounces shiitake-mushroom caps, halved if large
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 anchovies, mashed to a paste
8 cups torn mixed chicories, such as frisée, Castelfranco and Trevisano
½ cup pomegranate arils
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until darkened slightly with a nutty aroma, 10 to 12 minutes. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop.
In a small bowl, combine shallots, vinegar, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon water; season with salt and pepper. Heat a dry medium skillet over medium-high; add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring a few times, until mushrooms are golden brown in places and a film forms on bottom of skillet, 5 to 7 minutes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Cook until mushrooms are caramelized and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; cover to keep warm.
Return skillet to medium heat. Drain shallots, pouring shallot liquid into skillet, and set aside. Stir mustard, anchovies and lemon zest into skillet to combine. Slowly whisk in remaining ¼ cup oil and cook just to warm through, about 20 seconds. Transfer to bowl with mushroom mixture, along with chicories. Toss to evenly coat and season to taste. Top with pickled shallots, chopped hazelnuts and pomegranate arils; serve.
Active time: 25 minutes; total time: 35 minutes; makes 6 to 8 servings.