A healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square in NYC, Kelly Dupuis believes in eating foods without labels (an ear of corn, a ripe tomato). As a proponent of plant-based diets, she eschews packaged substitutes offering a quick fix. For Kelly, it's all about cooking from scratch. In her weekly column, Comfort Food - Refreshed, Kelly doesn't just adapt her favorite comfort foods to her plant-strong lifestyle, she reimagines them in original recipes with a wink to the past.
This week, Kelly demonstrates the meaty power behind the mushroom.
Photo by James Ransom
Earlier this summer, I started watching this show out of the UK called River Cottage Veg. The host, chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, has hosted the River Cottage television series for over a decade. His focus has always been on sustainability, humane animal raising practices, and real food -- and the man loves his meat. In 2011, he decided to go vegetarian for a summer. Hugh started out a bit wary of the whole “no meat or fish for several months thing,” but through relishing his vast gardens on River Cottage’s estate, connecting with local vegetarian-centric chefs, and embracing the challenge to bring out the inevitable deliciousness of vegetables, Hugh ended up thoroughly enjoying the experience. He also walked away knowing that an amazing meal does not need to have meat as a centerpiece -- especially when there are mushrooms to be foraged.
One of the awesome things Hugh did on his veg-ventures (that’s vegetable + adventures, and yes I just made that up) was forage for mushrooms. I adore mushrooms. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned my love for them, and it won’t be the last. The resident expert in mushroom foraging on River Cottage Veg is this gentleman name John Wright, who is basically a human dowser stick for these delightful woodsy fungi. From porcini to morels, and jelly ears to hedgehogs, the mushrooms they found made me hungry. Just from watching, I became inspired to cook.
Fall is often considered mushroom season, but you can really find quality mushrooms all-year long -- and I cook with them all the time. They’re fun to play with because they’ve got meaty, earthy flavors on their own and soak up other flavors well, too. Let’s see if I can’t inspire you to start foraging the produce aisle for some mushrooms with a few ideas.
My Rosemary Polenta with Mushrooms and Butter Beans is totally inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Soft Polenta with Mushroom Ragout Recipe right out of the River Cottage Veg cookbook. My version is a dish I cuddled up with a couple of weeks back. I cook the polenta in a ton of vegetable stock, and rosemary for a good 40 minutes -- mixing often to avoid stickiness. Meanwhile, I sauté up a ton of mixed mushrooms along with chopped garlic until the mushrooms release all their water, and then I simmer them even more in vegetable stock. I add fresh chopped thyme, red pepper flake, and a bit of tomato paste. At the very end, I throw in a couple cups of butter beans -- which are creamy and hearty. I top the cooked polenta (seasoned with salt and pepper, of course) with the mushroom and bean mixture. It’s a divine combination, and just another way to show off one of the foods this vegcentric gal can’t live without.
Rosemary Polenta with Mushrooms and Butter Beans
5 cups low sodium vegetable stock, divided
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 cup polenta
Water (optional for thinning out polenta)
1 pound mixed chopped mushrooms (portobello, morels, shiitake, oyster, white button, etc.)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspon fresh chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
2 cups cooked butter beans (or cannelini beans)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
In the NYC area? Stop by for cooking advice!
If you're not in the area, send me a direct message or add your comments or questions below.
Like this post? See Kelly's topic from last week: Baby Arugula and Granny Smith Apple Salad with Fig Walnut Dressing.
Kelly Dupuis is a healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square who delights in transforming comfort classics into deliciously satisfying and fun plant-based dishes.