My interest in mushrooms returns with cold weather. Although we have abundant local, sustainably farmed mushrooms all year round, I can barely look at them in the summer. But their earthy countenance is perfect for the crispness of autumn and they’ll be welcome in warm vegetable stews when the snow flies.
I made these as part of an antipasto platter last weekend, but they’re equally good as a stand-alone appetizer or a side dish. The vegetable overtones provided by the garlic, parsley and thyme are fairly predictable but the addition of cinnamon warms the flavors to an alluring sweetness that lingers deliciously. The dish comes together quickly and can be made days ahead, so it’s perfect for parties.
Mushrooms with Cinnamon and Thyme adapted from Viana La Place, Verdura
1 lb small mushrooms of roughly equal size (I used baby bellas)
¼ c extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped if large
3 tbsp chopped Italian flat-leaved parsley
1 small stick cinnamon, broken in half
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Clean the mushrooms with a damp towel but do not rinse. Trim the stem even with the cap, reserving the trimmings for another use. Cut large caps in half.
Combine the olive oil, garlic, thyme, parsley and cinnamon in a large sauté pan and warm over low heat for 2-3 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, raise the heat to medium and sauté for about 4-5 minutes (less for smaller mushrooms since you want them to remain firm at this point), stirring frequently. Lower the heat, add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender but still firm.
Transfer the mushrooms to a dish to cool. Cover them and let them marinate for an hour before serving or store for up to several days in the refrigerator. They improve as they age. Bring them to room temperature before serving as an appetizer.