Mushrooms add to delicious meal recipes

Rachel Forrest More Content Now
A puffball variety of mushroom for sale.

There’s been quite a bit of fall foraging going on out in our forests and fields, and I’ve seen many enticing photos of chefs holding up handfuls of Maitake and Lion’s Mane mushrooms then making delicious dishes with them.

Wherever you live, there are foragers out there expertly sniffing out (often literally) and plucking mushrooms. In every state, there are mushroom farms and small cultivators, especially in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, dubbed the Mushroom Capital of the World, and North Carolina.

We eat a lot of mushrooms in our “blended family” (I’m the omnivore food writer and my husband JimmyChiv is a vegetarian who does not like going out to dinner at all – a different sort of Odd Couple. I’m always looking for ways to simulate the rich, savory umami characteristics of meat including those Impossible and beyond meatless burgers. Even when I’m cooking for myself while JimmyChiv is tattooing America’s youth, I’ll mix chopped sauteed porcini mushrooms into my lean ground beef, an idea I got from the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project in which chefs all over the country come up with ways to make your burger more healthful. I make one of the 2017 winners (because it’s a competition, of course), a Porchetta Burger from chef Jon Lemon at Bareburger in NYC. His uses wild boar, but I get some nice ground beef from our local butcher. I love all the toppings, too, including roasted tomato instead of ketchup.

I try to avoid simple white button mushrooms because to me they lack flavor and now that we have access to more exotic cultivated and foraged mushrooms each with nuances in flavor all their own, it’s easy to skip over them for Maitakes (Hen of the Woods), Matsutakes, Lion’s Mane, Porcini, Portobello, Chanterelle, Chestnuts, King Oyster, Black Trumpet, Puff Balls and Shiitakes.

Those Porcini, Portabello, Lion’s Mane, King Oyster and Puff Ball mushrooms are often large enough to slice up and sautee like a steak. Just clean them off with a damp towel to remove the dirt and slice to about a quarter to a half inch thick. I like to sprinkle them with fresh herbs, salt and pepper, then saute in hot olive oil and butter until browned on one side, flip, season again and brown. They’re great sprinkled with Parmesan cheese right from the pan, under sliced warmed up tomatoes or topped with lightly dressed arugula.

I also like to make a hummus from mushrooms, including puffballs, or use that mixture as a filling for tortellini or ravioli or tossed with a touch of cream and Parmesan cheese to make a sauce to serve over pasta. Of course, any mushroom sauteed in butter is great as a pizza topping, in enchiladas, quinoa and risotto. Below are the recipes I’ve been making at home including that Blended Burger winner and resources for local mushroom foragers and cultivators doing all that work finding and growing mushrooms so you don’t have to. You have to be careful with foraging, which is fun but you really have to know what you’re doing so you don’t wind up ingesting something poisonous. Yes, avoid that and rely on the experts.

Puffball (or other mushroom) hummus

1 lb. fresh, white puffball mushroom, diced 1 inch

1 T. tahini

1/4 c. olive oil and 2 T. flavorless oil, like grapeseed

Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste

1/2 t. garlic, or more to taste

1/4 c. water

1 t. kosher salt, plus more to taste

Spread the puffballs or other mushrooms out on a non-stick baking sheet and cook at 275 degrees F. for 30 to 45 minutes, or until toasty brown and completely cooked.

Squeeze the puffball chunks a bit to compress them and place in the bowl of a food processor.

Add the garlic, lemon, salt, tahini, and water and puree the mixture until smooth, then drizzle in the oils slowly to make a smooth mixture.

When all the oil has been added, season to taste with salt and lemon and place in a container to refrigerate.

Porchetta Burger

From chef Jonathan Lemon, Barburger, NYC

Makes 4 burgers


For the Wild Boar (or ground beef) –Wild Mushroom Patties:

2 T. canola oil

1 1/4 lb.wild mushrooms

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c. diced fennel

1 1/2 t. chopped garlic

1 1/2 t. finely chopped rosemary

10 oz. ground wild boar meat, ground beef or lamb

For the Black Garlic Aïoli:

1/2 c. mayonnaise

2 cloves black garlic or roasted garlic, peeled

Pinch black pepper

Pinch salt

For the Broccoli Rabe:

1 T. canola oil

1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Roasted Tomatoes:

4 plum tomatoes, sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

3 T. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

4 toasted ciabatta buns

4 slices aged provolone

Make the patties: heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have dehydrated and are brown and crispy, 8 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mushrooms to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

In the same sauté pan, cook the fennel over medium heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for an additional 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix the cooled mushrooms and fennel mixture with the ground wild boar meat or beef until well combined. Shape into four 5 and 1/2-ounce patties. Season the patties with salt and pepper to taste before grilling.

Make the aïoli: add all ingredients to a food processor and purée until blended, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients. (Note: the aïoli will last for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)

Sauté the broccoli rabe: heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until the stalks are soft and the leaves and beginning to crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast the tomatoes: heat the oven to 350°F. Toss the sliced tomatoes with the olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper taste. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until caramelized, about 25 minutes.

Cook the burgers: heat a well-oiled cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, cook the patties until they’re seared on one side, about three minutes. Flip and repeat until seared on the other side, about 3 minutes. Add the provolone slices on top of each patty in the last minute of cooking.

To serve, spread a thin layer of the aïoli on both sides of the ciabatta bun. Add the burger, broccoli rabe, roasted tomatoes, and top with the other half of the bun.


Find mushroom farms all over the country at https://mushroomcompany.com/farmsonline/

Get more Blended Burger recipes here: www.jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject

— Rachel Forrest is a former restaurant owner who lives in Austin, Texas. She can be reached by email at rforrest@gatehousemedia.com.