Keep It Simple, Remember?

I have to admit that from time to time, well okay most of the time, I get a bit carried away in my enthusiasm. I am prone to getting sucked in by some food porn. I occasionally strive to recreate some gastronomic experiences from days gone by while vacationing somewhere exotic (before kids). It’s so easy to get caught up in the desire to make something fabulous and to forget that sometimes the best dishes are those that require amazingly little. I’m sure I’ve mentioned her before, but if you don’t believe me about the stunning dishes that can be made with short lists of ingredients and relatively few high end tools or techniques, check out Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The book is full of dishes that highlight the spectacular flavors that can be found with delicious ingredients combined with care.

Now, I am in no way comparing myself to Deborah Madison (rather providing her as a resource for further and more refined recipes than I could ever hope to achieve), but I’m pretty darned proud of the simple and lucious dinner that I put together last night. Being behind the eight ball on time, I did a quick fridge check, saw leftover rice and cremini mushrooms. Another look around the kitchen yielded handfuls of fresh basil leftover from the pesto this weekend, pine nuts, and a lemon. Done. This was so easy I’m a little embarrassed to share it, but it was so yummy that I would feel mean if I didn’t tell you about it.

Mushrooms Pignoli

  • Cooked short grain brown rice
  • Cremini mushrooms, sliced thick
  • Olive oil and salt for pan
  • pine nuts
  • fresh basil, cut (not minced)
  • lemon wedges (optional)

I’ve left out measurements because, as is our tradition, we left it all separate and combined it at the table, allowing each person to adjust the ratio of individual components to their own liking.  Warm olive oil in pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and sprinkle salt over them.  Let them alone for long enough to get a little caramelization (some browning that is yummy – if you move them too much, they will not brown, which will still taste very good).  Flip the mushrooms over to let the other side brown a little, but take them off the heat while they still have some moisture left in them – don’t let them dry out.  There.  You’re now done cooking.  Serve mushrooms over rice, with pine nuts (you could toast these for more yum), a sprinkle of basil.  You can also add some lemon if you need a little acid and it will be delicious, but I liked the extra earthiness of the dish without the lemon.  You could also, obviously, add parmesan, but I didn’t find it necessary so went without.  Simple, elegant, comforting, easy, and absolutely delish.

Want to go a step further?  Grow your own darned mushrooms in a laundry basket like the eco-geniuses at Milkwood did.  Yes, I said a laundry basket.  Check it out.  These folks are uber inspiring.