I love international grocery stores because there's often a huge variety of fresh produce and it's usually sold at great prices. It's also a fantastic place to pick up big bags of dried mushrooms, making it easy to be generous with them in recipes such as this Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf.
Dried mushrooms have concentrated mushroom flavors and are great for making broths that can improve sauces, soups and any dish where earthy flavor earthy would help. I highly recommend you keep a variety of dried mushrooms in your pantry.
This recipe starts off with dried mushrooms being soaked in boiling water. That's the typical way to bring dried mushrooms back to life -- it softens and plumps up the mushrooms and flavors the water. The ingredients for this pilaf are pretty standard: aromatics, grains, nuts and vegetables. Start by softening the aromatics; then toast the grains, simmer in a flavorful broth, add sauteed vegetables and garnish with nuts.
Serve this as a main course alongside steamed greens, roasted squash or a simple salad, or as a side to a holiday feast.
Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 cup quinoa
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (240 grams) cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
2 green onions or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes. Scoop out mushrooms and slice thinly, reserving mushroom soaking liquid -- about 1.5 cups. If you're left with less, add a bit of water to bring the mushroom broth to 1.5 cups.
In a medium pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, add onions, cook and stir until onions have softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and quinoa, cook and stir for 1 minute to toast quinoa. Add mushroom soaking lid, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until water is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.
While the quinoa cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add sliced mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes undisturbed to allow mushrooms to caramelize on one side; stir and cook for 5 more minutes until well browned. Season with a pinch of salt and deglaze the pan with white wine.
To pot of cooked quinoa add browned mushrooms, roasted cashews, sliced green onions. Season well with salt and pepper.
Substitute roasted cashews for roasted sunflower seeds, pine nuts or almonds.
Deglazing the pan means to adding wine to the hot pan, stirring, lifting off any browned pits of flavor stuck to the pan and adding them back to the dish -- in this case, back into the mushrooms.
To enhance the umami flavors, combine 1 tablespoon of hot water and white miso. Stir into cooked quinoa.
(Kary Osmond is a Canadian recipe developer and former television host of the popular daytime cooking show "Best Recipes Ever." Her easy recipes include helpful tips to guide you along the way, and her love of plant-based cooking offers healthy alternatives to some of your favorite dishes. Learn more at www.karyosmond.com.)