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Fungi Feast

What better way to celebrate fungi than a mushroom-themed feast!

To ancient Aztecs, they were the food of the gods. Egyptian pharaohs and Roman emperors so savored their flavor that they forbade commoners from eating them and declared them only for nobility. The French began cultivating them in the mid-1600s and today, we commoners need only forage our local grocery story to find both wild and cultivated varieties.

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Rich in protein, high in antioxidants, and very low in fat, mushrooms are not only tasty, but nutritious. To celebrate the fruit of the fungi, our Chesapeake and Southwest Basin & Range Bioregion offices held a cross-bioregional Fungi Feast!

After enjoying our feast, we selected our three favorite dishes, and the winners were…

(L-R) Erica Robak, Zen Martin, and Erin English with their winning dishes

Erica Robak made an Herby Barley Salad With Butter-Basted Mushrooms (from Bon Appetit), but she substituted the barley with farro. Zen made pork siomai (recipe from the blog PanlasangPinoy.com), and added oyster sauce. Inspired by the antics at Thug Kitchen (NYT bestselling healthy-eating cookbook with serious attitude), Erin cooked up some oyster mushrooms. She shares her recipe, along with the story behind it:

The extraordinary oyster mushrooms – a favorite child of the mycofiltration, soil remediation, wild harvesting and home-growing crowd – are also damn delicious. I learned this when working with Dr. John Todd at Ocean Arks International as part of the team growing oyster mushrooms on spent brewery grains as one part of a closed-loop aquaponics-vermiculture-mushroom system that upcycled brewery waste into a myriad of greenhouse-based delights, especially in the Vermont winters. Oyster mushrooms, worms for fish food, fresh fish fillets, hydroponic tomatoes and basil, and finally, leafy greens.

Inspired by the intrepid eco-innovators and those to come:

1 lb fresh oyster mushrooms. Check your farmers market or natural grocers. If you wild harvest, be sure you can identify these.

3-4 big fat handfuls of fresh flat or curly leafed parsley, chopped with main stems removed.

3-4 big fat handfuls of fresh baby arugula

Butter – lots of it, or as much as you like to taste.

1-2 cloves chopped garlic

Melt a few slabs of butter in a frying pan. Chop the oysters into bite site pieces and toss in with butter as well as the chopped garlic. Sauté ~ 5 min or until they are smelling really darn good. Add parsley and sauté until cooked down, about 3 minutes. Stir constantly, be patient. When mushrooms are cooked through to your liking, toss in arugula (and maybe more butter…to get it all nice and coated). Very quickly turn arugula under to just lightly wilt the greens. Remove from heat and serve.

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