Here’s a gourmet mushrooms recipe creates a creamy, yet light sauté when added to fresh and seasonal veggies.

Exotic fungi are a delightful addition to any meal, but especially at the vegan table. The succulent texture, woody fragrance and savory character create a gourmet experience comparable (and compatible!) with the finest wines. And though freshly harvested gourmet mushrooms are appealing, restricting indulgence to a few illusive days in fall is not necessary.There are many delicious varieties cultivated in specialized growing environments; and when dried properly, seemingly simple flavors develop complicated depth.

Ten pounds of fresh mushrooms are needed to produce one pound of dried. So while they seem expensive when compared to fresh, the value is ten fold. And as they last indefinitely, there is no risk in stocking the pantry.

Mushrooms are a great addition to a plant-based diet. They generally are high in vitamin B and iron, as well as trace minerals, and contain stable antioxidants that aren’t destroyed in a short cooking process. If you rehydrate them in a sunny window, they actually MAKE vitamin D, much like our own skin. Nutrient levels and immune boosting-benefits are not affected by the drying process.

Premium Mushroom Blend or bulk Dried Porcini Mushrooms are available through the Great American Spice Company, as well as most grocery stores. The blend is a bit pricey, but the eclectic selection can last a long time if you use them sparingly.

Ingredients for Gourmet Mushrooms Recipe: 1/2 pound cashews (soak) 1/2 cup dried mushrooms (soak) Fresh seasonal ingredients of choice: greens, peppers, squash, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, beans, tofu, etc. 4-5 cloves freshly chopped garlic 2 tbsp each of seasonings: parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic salt, black pepper (or fresh if you have them!) 1/2 cup yeast flakes 1tbsp ground mustard

1-2 hour in advance: Soak 1/2 lb of cashews in water for an hour or so. (They plump up just like dried beans and turn white…perfect for cream!)

Boil 5-6 cups plain water and pour over dried mushrooms in a mixing bowl. Add just enough to cover the mushrooms and discard the remainder. Let them soak (in a sunny window if possible) until they are tender.

20 minutes before serving time: Drain cashews and put them in a blender. Cover the nuts with about half of the broth produced by soaking mushrooms. Add yeast flakes, ground mustard and 1 tbsp each of seasonings. Puree until thoroughly blended. Taste it with your finger and fine tune as needed. I usually add a bit more salt. If it’s too thick, add a bit more broth.

Cook pasta of choice according to package directions. I like Farfalle Pot Pie Bow Noodles (egg free) because it’s very light in texture and flavor. Add 1-2 tbsp salt to the boiling water, and the subtle flavor will pop.

In a skillet, add the soaking mushrooms and remaining broth to desired veggies and garlic. Cook on medium heat until everything is tender, but brightly colored with a bit of crunch. Add seasonings just before removing from heat.

Pour cashew sauce over sauté. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently.

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Serve this gourmet mushrooms recipe over, or mix into, the pasta. Take compliments graciously.