Published July 10, 2013 - Last Updated January 22, 2021
In late 19th century America, mushrooming clubs were the place to be. As mushrooms became a more important part of fashionable French cuisine, American cooks (who took their culinary inspiration from France) went crazy for mushrooms. Clubs began popping up all over the country dedicated to foraging, identifying and cooking various varieties of fungi. Entire cookbooks were devoted to mushrooms, including Kate Sargeant’s One Hundred Mushroom Receipts (1899). The first English language mushroom cookbook, Sargeant’s work includes some fabulous Harry Potter-sounding recipe titles including “Coprinus Comatus Soup (Shaggy Mane),” “Lepiota Procera Stew,” and “Baked Tricholoma Personatum.” In the book’s introduction, Sargeant describes the changing American attitude towards mushrooms at the turn of the century:
The general opinion in this country regarding mushrooms has been, that with one or two exceptions, all forms of fungus growth are either poisonous or unwholesome, but it is very gratifying to observe the change that is rapidly taking place in the public mind. Soon public opinion will acknowledge that it is an established fact that the great majority of the larger funguses, especially of those that grow in fields and other open places, is not only wholesome but highly nutritious.
– Kate Sargeant, One Hundred Mushroom Receipts (1899)
What Kate says may be true, however I don’t recommend that you eat any wild mushrooms without first knowing exactly what they are. Better yet, stick to the ones sold at the grocery store, unless you’re friends with a foraging expert (mistakes can happen!).
In this recipe, mushrooms are the magic ingredient. I make this super simple vegan Chickpea, Spinach and Mushroom Sauté once or twice a week for my husband. It’s one of his favorites. The seared mushrooms, seasoned with garlic and spices, taste almost meaty when combined with the nutty chickpeas and steamed spinach. It’s a homey, comforting sort of dish with no grains and a fairly low glycemic index. I find this recipe to be very nourishing, what we like to call “clean eating.” It’s Mediterranean-inspired, low in calories, loaded with fiber and heart-healthy. Don’t skimp on the olive oil, it adds a lot of flavor. We consider it a one-pot meal; it satisfies as either a lunch or a dinner. I’ve also served this as a side dish to rave reviews from family and friends. The sprinkle of roasted sunflower seeds gives it a lovely crunch. It may not be the prettiest dish, but it’s certainly one of the yummiest. No need to go foraging, common white mushrooms will do just fine. I think Kate Sargeant would approve.
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Thanks for stopping by! I am fascinated by the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Read more...