In addition to my fresh lavender, I got a tremendous bargain at the farmers’ market on Sunday via a tent selling paper bags full of baby shiitake mushrooms. I had only two dollars left in my wallet and spotted the bag of mushrooms marked $3. One of the biggest secrets to going to a farmers’ market is to go towards the end when the vendors are trying to get rid of whatever they were unable to sell. It’s much easier to barter and you are likely to get a really great deal. Case and point, this bag of mushrooms. I asked if she would take $2. Not only did she agree, she proceeded to fill the bag with some leftover shiitakes in a bulk bin that she considered “deformed” and therefore wouldn’t sell them. Tremendous deal.
In a situation like this, with such fresh and lovely mushrooms, simplicity is best. I decided I wanted to make a gravy using the mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and vegetable stock for an easy and satisfying dinner. I wanted to get the gravy thick, but I didn’t want to have to use flour as I’ve been trying hard to avoid it whenever possible. One of my favorite things to do is browse the “New Item” section at Trader Joe’s – there are always such fun new things to play with like coconut cream, honey roasted almond slices, coconut flakes, etc, etc. Recently I discovered Chia Seeds, which I later learned act as an outstanding thickener when they are ground. And they happen to have much the same digestive benefits as psyllium fiber (Metamucil). Who knew?
So here’s what I did. Got a large heavy or cast iron skillet nice and hot. Added butter and just enough oil to coat the bottom and tossed in the mushrooms, about 3 three cups of fresh shiitake. I sauteed them until they began to brown, then added 1 finely minced shallot, 1 clove finely minced garlic, kosher salt, and black pepper. Once fragrant, I added in 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds, sauteed for an additional minute, then added two cups of vegetable stock. I then let it simmer until it thickened – happens very quickly. Once thick I killed the heat, added in one tablespoon of chopped fresh sage, and bam, a delicious mushroom gravy that I ate over brown rice. This would also be great with steamed vegetables or as a topping for grilled chicken or steak. Yum.
Hope everyone is enjoying the fall! More coming from me over the weekend!