By Suzanne Corbett, STLSportsPage.com Food and Travel Editor
Growing season is over but that doesn’t mean the harvest is over. There are still plenty of late fall produce such as spinach, apples, pumpkins on the market along with my favorite, mushrooms. Mushrooms are the treat that ushers in the cooking of heartier recipes with one of the fall garden’s most flavorful foods. Beset yet, mushrooms can also help stretch your grocery dollar by adding a delicious option to enhance flavor in favorite recipes while extending portions.
To stretch grocery dollars, begin by stretching your meals using a process called “The Blend.” Blending finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat can extend portion sizes of your favorite meaty recipes and help your bottom line. Chop your favorite mushroom variety to match the consistency of ground meat, blend the chopped mushrooms and meat together then cook to complete the recipe. For burgers, use a blend of 25% finely chopped mushrooms and 75% ground meat. For tacos or chili, use 50% mushrooms and 50% meat or an even higher mushroom-to-meat ratio. Thanks to mushrooms’ versatility, you can buy one large carton of mushrooms to chop up then bulk up multiple dishes, from a morning omelet to hearty soups to blended burgers.
The savory umami taste of mushrooms provides means a flavorful experience in blended recipes like burgers, where the chopped mushrooms help hold in the juiciness. Or you can chop, quarter, slice or enjoy them whole in a recipe like Creamy Spinach, Mushroom and Lasagna Soup, which not only stretches a recipe but intensifies flavor. Mushrooms Also provides an economical gourmet touch to a recipe. Just what the budget can use as the holiday season is approaching.
The Mushroom Council has provided STLSportsPage readers a few recipes to help spark ideas for your fall and upcoming holiday menus. For more recipe ideas and ways to make the most of your grocery store dollars at MushroomCouncil.com.
Creamy Spinach, Mushroom and Lasagna Soup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, small diced
8 ounces mushrooms, such as white button, cremini, or portabella, sliced
1 jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups vegetable broth
6 lasagna noodles, broken into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, for topping
Heat large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and mushrooms soften, 4-5 minutes.
Add marinara, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, basil, salt, oregano, pepper, bay leaf and broth. Bring to boil over high heat then reduce heat to low and simmer. Add lasagna noodles and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and remove bay leaf. Stir in heavy cream and spinach until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Divide between bowls and top each with dollop of ricotta and sprinkle of mozzarella.
Makes 4 servings