I’ve always thought of mushrooms as something you put into or on top of other foods to make them more special — not as a food that could stand on their own. But with the vegetable people suddenly sending me literal pounds of them every week, it was time to come up with a dish based on mushrooms.
At first I was thinking of something Asian, maybe marinating them in soy sauce and garlic as I do sometimes with thinly sliced beef or pork. Then my mind wandered to Spain — maybe a honey, vinegar, and cumin coating? — and back to Asia — sweet and sour sauce? — before settling in Greece.
So the spice mix in this dish is modified from the one I use in my sauce for Greek moussaka. It’s definitely the first dish I’ve ever made that combines mushrooms and cinnamon. It’s flavorful, a little unexpected, spicy but not too much so. It’s also versatile — it tastes fine either just cooked, or, like moussaka, cooled down to room temperature. As is, it makes a good side dish, but you could also serve the mushrooms on toothpicks as an appetizer, or sliced, with Parmesan cheese, as a pasta topping.
- 1 tsp. butter
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 2 Tb. tomato paste
- 2 Tb. red wine (or your choice)
- ½ tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. dried thyme
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 pound white mushrooms, whole
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Wash the mushrooms.
- Steam in the microwave, on high in a covered dish with a couple of tablespoons of water, till just tender (3-4 minutes). Or use a steamer basket, but either way keep the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic.
- Melt the butter over medium high flame in a large frying pan.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, till golden, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Add tomato paste and wine.
- Take two tablespoons of cooking water from the mushrooms (you’ll probably find they’ve given off some liquid of their own, but add more water if necessary to bring it up to two tablespoons) and stir everything together to make a thick liquid.
- Stir in basil, thyme, and cinnamon.
- Add the cooked mushrooms (without the rest of the cooking liquid) and stir to coat.
- Heat over low flame until liquid is very thick and mushrooms are evenly coated (just a couple of minutes).
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot or room temperature.