BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Back to the Earth

37 Comments

“There’s fungus growing in our kitchen… and it’s a good thing,” she said falteringly. Posed more as a question than a statement, it was clear that my mom didn’t exactly welcome my latest addition with open arms. Truth be told, it freaked me out just a little bit, too.

The fungus in question were oyster mushrooms to be precise, a much sought-after wild variety that fetch a fair price at market, but still rank below the luxurious porcini and chantarelle. A self-professed mushroom lover, it seemed to crime to have never cooked with oyster mushrooms before, but the grocery budget can only accommodate the common button or cremini on a regular basis. As prices skyrocket, even portobellos have become a special occasion purchase. Thus, when Back to the Roots contacted me about giving one of their mushroom kits a test drive, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Grown on a rectangular cake of recycled coffee grounds, the spores are shipped with everything you need to start a mini mushroom farm in your home. Even though the instructions couldn’t be simpler, they also spell everything out in great detail through online videos, in case a serious mushroom novice lacks confidence. So, guaranteed to be a breeze, I slowly became concerned as the days passed and my moldy dirt looked unchanged, especially considering the fact that the box so boldly declares that a first harvest may be possible in only 10 days. On day 6, at long last, my little mushrooms appeared to awaken…

And from that point on, there was no turning back.

The rate at which they grew was borderline disturbing, and on many trips to the kitchen, they would literally have grown since last glance – We’re talking centimeters per hour at their height of their growth. The monster mushrooms simply exploded out of their flimsy plastic packaging. I had never seen anything like this. Both fascinating and alarming, I was now more enchanted with the growing process than the idea of eating them.

Still mourning the end of growing season, this unexpected thrill helped ease the transition, and seems like the perfect alternative to gardening in the colder months. The downside is that you can only start the mushrooms twice (once from each side of the box) and then it’s all over. Don’t think that you’ll achieve incredible yields and be rolling in mushrooms, either- Though it claims to produce 1 1/2 pounds of edibles, I would be hard pressed to say that I got even 1/2 pound out of mine. However, the novelty factor and environmentally friendly approach justifies the price tag, and it strikes me as the perfect gift for the foodie with everything.

[For a limited time, you can enter the discount code "mushrooms4me10" when ordering online for 10% off and free shipping.]

Unable to make a grand feast of mushrooms with my small harvest, I chose instead to feature the oyster mushrooms prominently, using them as the base of a fun hors d’oeuvre, ideal for the impending holiday parties.

Just like their inspiration, Oysters Rockefeller, these gorgeous fungus are loaded with an herbaceous puree of garlic, parsley, scallions, and a bit of spinach for color. Enriched with a buttery finish, the bright flavors of the herbs combined with the savory, earthy flavor of the mushrooms is unforgettable. Why anyone would ever create this dish with slimy sea creatures instead is beyond me.

Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller

12 Large Oysters Mushrooms

Olive Oil, to Coat

1 Cup Fresh Spinach, Firmly Packed
1 Stalk Celery, Roughly Chopped
2 Large Scallions, Green Parts Only, Chopped
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
1 Small Clove Garlic
2 Teaspoons Capers, Drained
1 Tablespoon Non-Dairy Margarine
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
Dash Tabasco Sauce
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Fennel Seed
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Fresh Lemon Juice (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay out your mushrooms on the sheet, spaced evenly, and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.

In your food processor or blender, combine the spinach, celery, scallions, parsley, garlic, and capers. Blend thoroughly, until mostly smooth but still slightly coarse. No need to go crazy here, a bit of texture is a welcome thing.

Meanwhile, set a medium saute pan over moderate heat, and melt down the margarine along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once, liquefied, quickly whisk in the flour to fully moisten, and cook for 5 – 8 minutes until very lightly browned, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Slowly pour in the non-dairy milk while whisking, and cook for just another minute or so until thickened. Turn off the heat, and whisk in the Tabasco sauce, nutritional yeast, and ground fennel. Transfer the green contents of the blender or food processor, and add them into your roux. Stir well to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pile the filling on top of your mushrooms; about 1 – 2 tablespoons, depending on the size of the mushroom. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Serve hot, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if desired.

Makes 12 Appetizer Servings

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

37 thoughts on “Back to the Earth

  1. Wow – those photos of the mushrooms growing are awesome!

  2. I’m so excited you liked it!! I had fun with mine for sure :) although it is a bit creepy at first huh LOL

  3. i’m with you, hannah- i looove oyster mushrooms. i’m sure it might be a little off-putting having them grow in your kitchen, i’m sure my husband(who hates mushrooms) would be totally grossed out.

    on another note, i’m not familiar with oyster rockefeller, but your mushroom version looks to. die. for. i must make these ;)

  4. Wow…your creativity never ceases to amaze me! Your dish looks delicious, and I was fascinated to read about your mushroom-growing adventure! :)

  5. I’ve looked at those kits before and couldn’t decide if it would work well or not – seems too easy to be true. I’m glad to see that you had such good luck with them. Maybe it’s time to give it a try in my kitchen. :)

  6. awesome mushroom mama !!!! mine didnt grow so well , and then I was told not to eat them raw , so that went out the window !!! I m just beginning to write my book and would love to have you do pics ! not at that stage yet , but would love your input and motivation !!!!! so much love from tynne !

  7. That is exciting! I would love to try and grow my own mushrooms (some of my favorite food) but I have heard mixed results, and for the price I’m hesitate, but it looks fun!

  8. I might have to give this a try. I love portobellas the most. But I agree their rising prices make them a special treat anymore.

  9. How fun to grow your own mushrooms!!

  10. That’s so cool! Mushrooms can be on the pricey side especially oyster, shitake and chanterelles(my absolute fav). Can’t wait to try this recipe

  11. It is almost lunchtime here and your oyster mushrooms look like they would be great for my lunch today!

    My kids and I received one of the kits to test-out too and it really was a lot of fun watching them grow…they really do grow freakishly fast at the end.

    Great post and gorgeous pictures as always.

  12. I love Back to the Roots! They are based in West Oakland (my old neighborhood) and they do a lot for the community!

  13. I would be creeped out too, but the end product seems like it was worth it. Your recipe sounds delicious!

  14. Ooooo I want to grow my own mushrooms what a great idea! And this recipe looks insane. Can’t wait to try it!!

  15. I’m with you – I’d much rather eat oyster mushrooms rockafeller than the “real” thing. I’ve tried oysters, and I don’t really get the appeal. Love the idea of growing your own!

  16. Wild! I find mushrooms fascinating but have never tried to grow or sprout my own. There are a lot more types I want to try, oyster mushrooms being one of them. Love the play on the Rockefeller recipe.

  17. Amazing! I love how they burst out of their packaging. Rawrrr!

  18. I have to admit, I’d be a concerned to have fungi growing on my kitchen counter…and I’d have some kind of deep-seated fear that they were going to stage some kind of takeover. But it is super cool nonetheless.

  19. Oh my heavens! This is going to sound ridiculous, but I swear my heart skipped a beat looking at those three photos of the mushrooms growing! I think because I thought the first photo was it all going wrong, and then GORGEOUSNESS!

  20. Your pictures are always amazing!! This recipe looks divine.
    And hope you don’t mind, I’m adding you to my blogroll. Love your blog. :)

  21. Wow, that is amazing! I can’t believe they grew so fast — that would have totally captured my attention too! They look delicious in your Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller, and what a cute idea!

  22. those pictures are super gorgeous.. i think i am gonna buy them.. growing them myself will def creep me out!:) that herbaceous and spinachy puree sounds yumm!

  23. Never cooked an oyster mushroom before!? But they are so delicious! I often use oyster mushrooms in cream sauces or soups, I find their texture and flavours blend better that way. This recipe looks delicious though, I am putting it on my “try” list!
    - Brittany

  24. Hannah, I love reading your post…every word…
    I never heard about this mushroom kits…indeed so interesting…and kind of creepy.
    The oyster mushrooms look great with the green mix on it.
    Hope you are having a nice week and thanks for this fun post :-)

  25. Pingback: Tuesday Post-MoFo Round Up | VeganMoFo

  26. the photos remind me of this poem:
    http://www.poemhunter.com/best-poems/sylvia-plath/mushrooms
    gotta watch out for those wily creatures!

  27. I love your vegan version of such a classic oyster dish. Those mushrooms look so huge they are practically mutant! I got one of my good friends a mushroom growing kit from Far West Fungi one year for Christmas. She loved it and I’ve been meaning to get one for myself.

  28. woah, gnarly.. They look like ears.

  29. Your description of the prolific growth habits of the mushrooms gave me a real laugh. The photos say it all. I think my kitchen needs a little fungus!

  30. Those mushrooms look really cool! The hors d’oeuvre sounds pretty tasty, too :)

  31. Great post! I’ll definitely be trying this recipe!

  32. Wonderful! I just ordered some of these a week ago. So neat to see that they actually will grow. Yay!

  33. too bad that i am in France because i really like the idea. i think that mushrooms are pretty expensive too in France, and i usually do not buy them often (except if i want the basic ones, white Parisian mushrooms as we call them here)
    when i first saw the pictures of the articles i thought that you let something rot but not all (actually i would have been a bit jealous to see that i you were to leave something for a long time without eating it, it would make some wonderful mushrooms like the ones you get – and i would have tried by myself hehe)
    thanks though for sharing such nice pictures, your mushrooms are really nice !
    and so you can use this box only once, right ?

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