Fungus, really? I thought this was a food column! You might think of fungus as an unpleasant thing, reminding you of something — ewww — not so pleasant. But in the culinary world, there are fungi that we love! Ponder this: without fungi there would be no yeast (so no fresh bread or rolls, no aged cheeses, no beer or wine, no soy sauce), and, alas, no mushrooms, my favorite fungus! Embrace the fungus among us (sorry)! For my family, mushrooms are a kitchen staple, right along with milk, butter, and eggs. Extremely versatile and savory, they offer a wide variety of presentations: appetizers, salads and main dishes. Given the hearty texture of mushrooms, you can easily turn any meaty dish into a meatless dish, enhance delicious fillings for soup, stew, pasta, or a casserole, plus mushrooms provide vitamin D and a healthy dose of antioxidants! Enjoy the following recipes and have “fun with fungi!”

Sticky Apricot Sesame Mushrooms

Sticky, sweet, salty — these roasted mushrooms

are great as an entree with rice or noodles.

4 portobello mushrooms

1/2 cup apricot jam or preserves

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

3 tablespoons orange juice, fresh squeezed

1 tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the mushrooms into thick slabs, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a mixing bowl, whisk the jam, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, zest, water, and pepper flakes. Whisk until smooth and all the jam is dissolved.

Add the sliced mushrooms to the marinade and stir to coat. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour. Stir

occasionally.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray well with non-stick spray. Place the sliced mushrooms onto the foil lined baking sheet. Brush the mushrooms with more marinade, coating well and bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they start to brown. Flip the mushrooms, brush with more marinade, and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the mushrooms are brown and sticky. Some of the marinade may burn on the foil, but it won’t affect the mushrooms. Serve over rice or noodles.

Balsamic Garlic Mushroom Skewers

Serve as an appetizer or a delicious side for steak or chicken.

1 pound crimini, baby bellos, or button mushrooms,

     sliced 1/2 inch thick

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon thyme, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Thin bamboo skewers

Marinate the mushrooms in the mixture of the remaining ingredients for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Carefully, skewer the mushrooms and grill over medium-high heat until just tender and slightly charred, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. **Option: You may also bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes and finish by broiling for 2 to 3 minutes.

Goat Cheese, Greens and Mushroom Toasts

Try this presentation with either of the preceding

mushroom preparations

Goat cheese

Salt and pepper

Arugula, kale, or spinach

Red pepper flakes

Baguette, sliced diagonal, toasted

Use either of the mushroom preparations above. Slightly warm mushroom pieces in a little olive oil, add torn

greens and red pepper flakes, and sauté, tossing until greens are slightly wilted. Soften goat cheese, season with

salt and pepper. Spread onto toasted bread. Spoon mushroom/greens mixture over goat cheese spread. Great as

an appetizer or a light lunch with fresh fruit.

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