I love all forms of edible mushrooms, from ground and tree mushrooms to the basic white button and baby bella mushrooms I find at my local grocery store, no matter the season. I learned to love mushrooms at a young age, however, we are still working on the girls as they do not love them, but will eat them in certain preparations.
My famiglia in Sora, Italia took us hunting for tree and other wild mushrooms that summer. I quickly learned this process was serious and you must always have a complete understanding of what you are seeking to harvest and eat. There are many varieties that are poisonous and dangerous to humans and animals alike.
My Nonno Enrico (my grandfather and Papa Pierino’s father) walked around with a small black “mushroom species” book and a warped old notepad from his years of harvesting and preparing cultivated and wild mushrooms.
If you wish to hunt for wild mushrooms when traveling abroad, you need to hire a trained professional “mushroom hunter” to ensure you pick only safe edible mushrooms. There are many unique types of wild and cultivated mushrooms that can be found in both northern and southern Italy, many are simply delicious served alone or as an addition to roasted or grilled meats and to creamy risotto and pasta dishes.
I found a roasted mushroom recipe from one of my favorite Food Network chefs, Tyler Florence, a few years ago and I just loved it. This is his basic recipe with my own personal changes and interpretations.
My famiglia enjoys mushrooms in every season, and for us, fall and winter are the best seasons to include this wonderful, earthy ingredient in our recipes. This roasted mushroom salad is a great way to enjoy this savory ingredient in every season. A warm, rich and simple dish with unforgettable flavor intensity; be sure you include this one in your food file.
insalata di funghi arrosto
1-2 lb. mixed blend of 3-4 varieties of fresh edible mushrooms (varieties like baby bella, white button, oyster, shiitake, hen of the woods, cremini, portobella, chanterelle, porcini, enoki and morel and more)
NOTE: The more variety of mushrooms you add to this mix, the better the overall flavor of the final dish when combined.
fresh garlic cloves
fresh parsley, thyme or sage
red wine vinegar
salt and peper to taste
Wash and dry the mushrooms completely; cut the larger mushrooms into pieces, smaller varieties can remain whole if desired. Place in a large mixing bowl and add chopped garlic cloves to taste and a healthy drizzle of olive oil.
NOTE: If you like a bit of heat, add some chili flakes or chopped fresh chili of your choice before roasting. Be sure to add as much or as little as you desire dependent on the level of heat you are looking for in the finished dish.
Mix well and lay onto a metal non-stick baking sheet evenly distributed so there is not too much overlap. Place into a preheated 375-400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or so (depending on your oven) until the mushrooms are well roasted and browned, but NOT burned.
Remove them from the oven and let them cool a bit to almost room temperature. While they are still warm, put them into a large deep bowl and drizzle with more olive oil, add a good splash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and add your desired fresh chopped parsley or thyme herb (basil works well here too.)
Mix them very well and serve immediately, they should still be a bit warm but not too hot. We love these as a side to grilled meats and other vegetables or served as an appetizer with toasted brushetta bread, mix of table cheeses, marinated olives and some red or white wine to drink.
Try them as a topping for your next sandwich as it will transform a basic ham and cheese into something remarkable!
This will keep in the fridge for a good week or so, be sure to store in a well sealed glass container so the flavors remain as fresh as possible.
Note: Photography provided by Annette L. Venditti