For the first time since before Thanksgiving, I managed to make it over to the Farmers Market. I admit I was dreaming of a non-January selection when I came upon vendor after vendor peddling apples, onions and root vegetables. The first two months of the year are never my favorites, and the fresh options for a locavore are few and far between.
One of the options available was fresh mushrooms. Since my kids don’t like mushrooms, I rarely buy them (they’re quite pricey, as well). However, since green was not in my immediate meal future, I decided to indulge and make my favorite fungi dish: Mushroom Caviar. It’s somewhat surprising to me that this Russian recipe is so little known in American circles. Whenever I make it for friends, they’re literally blown away. It’s a low-prep dish, too, meaning approximately 20 minutes from cutting board to plate!
Start with a diverse selection of local ‘shrooms (yes, you can use store bought, but fresher is better, plus you’ll find way more variety with your local forager). I’m no expert, but I got several odd looking mushrooms (yes, the vendor told me what they were, but I forgot).
Wash off any dirt and chop the mushrooms into fairly large (1/4″ to 1/2″ wide) chunks. You want the mushrooms to hold their shape, so don’t chop too fine.
Put 3T olive oil in a skillet over low heat; add your chopped mushrooms. Stir until mushrooms are coated in oil (add up to 3 additional tablespoons so that mushrooms are coated but not moist). Add in salt and black pepper to taste.
After mushrooms begin to soften, add one large scallot. Be sure to stir in and not allow scallot to burn. When scallot becomes translucent and mushrooms are tender but not mushy, remove from heat.
Depending on how much spice you like (not to mention garlic), dice 1-3 cloves; do not use a garlic press. Garlic should be finely chopped but still hold its shape. Stir garlic into mushroom mix. Do not cook the garlic.
Transfer to a food processor. Gently pulse (lowest setting) the mixture, stopping often to distribute any large mushroom pieces that are at the top. You want all the mushrooms to be of same size and consistency. You may end up pulsing several dozen times before all the mushroom pieces are small. Think about “caviar” and how it is shaped; you don’t want to end up with mushroom paste, nor do you want chunks so large that it’s clearly identifiable as mushrooms.
This is a very simple recipe that can only be ruined if the mushrooms are overcooked or overprocessed. You want tender, but not soft; small, but not spreadable.
From food processor, transfer to a bowl/serving dish. Add in 1/4 cup sour cream (you can substitute Greek yogurt or a vegan equivalent); stir gently until well mixed. Serve on crackers, bread or as a side dish. If you’re lucky enough to have some fresh dill, you can garnish your mushroom caviar with dill weed.
(Makes about 3 cups)
- 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms
- 3-6T olive oil
- 1 large shallot
- 1-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4C sour cream
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Fresh dill to garnish (optional)
Saute mushrooms in olive oil as described above, adding in shallots and stirring regularly until shallots are translucent. Remove from heat. Add in garlic and transfer to food processor. Process as described above. Add in sour cream, garnishing with fresh dill. May be served warm (not hot) as a side dish or cold. Keeps in refrigerator up to a week.