Last week, Rob and I both had very important, stressful, and accomplished weeks with our jobs. Towards the end of Friday, I was already feeling the oncoming and inevitable first-month-of-school cold, and while Rob had duty (again) on Sunday, we looked forward to our only day together in a long time. So when Saturday morning came around, I downed some Airborne, took some cold meds, poured some hot tea in a to-go cup, and we made our way to Florence for their farmer’s market.
The goal was to stock up on some end-of-season tomatoes and peaches (with canning in mind), but then we saw the humble sign – Gourmet Wild Mushrooms. With a simple arrow pointing the way. While Rob took our flat of tomatoes, and lug of peaches to the car (did you know that a technical case of peaches is called a lug? New for me, too), I made my way through the end-of-summer Oregon mist to the small tent selling said mushrooms.
Boy did this lady have mushrooms. First off, she looked like she had been foraging for days – maybe she had. Her hands were dirty and strong; they revealed her expertise of having dug their way through many sodden woody trails finding nature’s tastiest fungi. I looked around, my eyes gaping at the lack of flourishes, just plain white paper bags loaded with mushrooms. Immediately my eyes came upon a large bag of wild chanterelles. Immediately their nutty smell and almost crunchy texture made me salivate. As I reached to grab the bag, I looked up and just a bit to the right, and saw the sign: “Rare. Hard to find. $25”
I looked up. “Is that a truffle?”
“Yeah.” Her lack of tone was slightly off-putting; but then again, this is her thing. The last time I saw a truffle was when two little shaved slivers topped my overpriced fancy pasta who knows how long ago.
“Oh my gosh.” I reached to touch it, but then pulled back. “Can I smell it?”
Finally a crack of a smile, “Of course.”
Picking it up, I was surprised at how light it was. And the smell was intoxicating. Musty, umami-y, and freshly familiar.
“You found this?” (incredulous)
“Yep.” (lack of emotion)
“Up north.” (vague)
“Just north of here?” (slight begging)
“Uh, yep.” (clear as mud)
“So, were you coastal… or in the mountains?” (pleading)
Here’s to brevity. She made her point.
Obviously, I bought the truffle. And the dull, fuzzy headache I had somehow disappeared for a while. What’s the best cure for the common cold? Buy a black truffle!
So tonight, despite the ever-persistent germy headache, I cooked up the most earthy, humble, and tasty dish I’ve had in a long time: Wild Chanterelles with Herbed Quinoa and Shaved Truffle. Paired with a few sips of a thin but potent Oregon Pinot Noir, the night ended on an amazing note. A shroomy note. A hint of fungi. A wild concoction… I could keep going. But I won’t.
If you can find wild mushrooms at your local farmers market, MAKE THIS DISH. It is super easy, and unbelievably comfy. And thank your local foragers. 🙂
- about 2 lbs wild chanterelles, tips of woody stems trimmed off
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 c chardonnay (oaked, buttery chard works better here)
- 1 c quinoa
- 2 c water
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp chopped rosemary
- 1 tbsp chopped basil
- juice 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp shaved black truffle
- Earthy finishing extra virgin olive oil (optional)
In a large saute pan, heat the butter over med-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with s&p, and saute until all the mushrooms are covered in butter. Let brown, stirring every once in a while, for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring quinoa and water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Once mushrooms are nicely browned, add the wine (deglazing the pan), lower the heat to med-low, and cover until mushroom caps are al dente.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and season with s&p and the lemon juice. Pour into a serving bowl and top with herbs and then mushrooms. Sprinkle the shaved truffle over the dish, and finish with the extra virgin olive oil, if using.