Smoky Roasted Oyster Mushrooms

titleDo you believe in signs?  That the universe speaks to us in certain ways and we must make sure that we take the time to stop and listen?  That when we listen to what is truly in our hearts and take action, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, the energies-that-be will show us tokens of reassurance that we are indeed doing the right thing and provide us with enigmatic helping hands?

Part of me staunchly believes it, without doubt or hesitation, stars in my eyes and a song in my heart.  Part of me is scared to believe it, clinging to that safe harbor, unwilling to rock any boats for fear of losing precious cargo.  And part of me is a boring old frumpy realist, punching in my card, clacking at my keyboard, and not believing it at all, repeating my worn-thin mantra of “you gotta do what you gotta do”.

Which part will triumph?  At this point, I honestly don’t know.  But I am looking at things in different ways.  I am finding more opportunities to simply ‘be open’.  I’m enticing myself to go down paths I have been too timid to try before.  And if it doesn't lead anywhere, that's fine too, I would have been enriched simply by the journey.

In the end, some things are not always what they seem – that mysterious and slightly scary path may be the best road you ever chose, and that safe harbor may not be as safe as you thought.

And someone thought these mushrooms were bacon! 

Smoky Roasted Mushrooms
  • 200-230 grams oyster mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 scant teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 scant teaspoon pimenton de La Vera, dulce (or any smoked paprika)
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: a couple of dashes cayenne pepper if you want it spicy
- Place the mushrooms, olive oil, cumin, pimenton/paprika, salt, and pepper (and cayenne if using) in a bowl.  Mix with your hands, tossing and turning gently, until all the mushrooms are evenly coated with oil and spices.  Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Lay the mushrooms out flat in one layer on a parchment lined baking sheet (as if you are making granola).  You want them to roast properly, not stew in their own juices, so take care to make sure they are all in one layer and not on top of each other.
- Place the mushrooms in a pre-heated 350F oven and roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Check at the halfway mark to see how it’s going.  If some mushrooms look like they are getting a bit to burnished on one side, flip them over.  You want the mushrooms to be bronze with toasty edges.  Once they have reached this state, remove from the oven and serve.  You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

When I posted this photo, a friend actually thought it was bacon at first.  Make no mistake, in my book that is high praise.  But just to set the record straight, they are mushrooms, not bacon.  That being said, you could easily use this in many preparations where you would normally use bacon bits: in salads, to top soups, on top of a sour cream laced baked potato, endless possibilities here.  I originally made these as part of my condiments for a batch of this curry.  I’ve also had them piled high on melted white cheese covered toast.

As the mushrooms roast the meatier parts become soft and juicy while the thinner outer edges become crisp.  I could eat these like chips, seriously!  You can serve this as is, as part of an appetizer spread, or, as suggested above, as an absolutely delicious condiment/side dish.  You can also mix it through cooked rice, couscous, or quinoa, crown with a fried egg, and call it a full meal.  I’ve used cumin and pimenton de La Vera here because I love this combination of flavors but you can certainly replace with any other herb or spice that you prefer.

I procured these lovely mushrooms from the Ministry of Mushrooms, which I've mentioned before.  I really believe in supporting our local artisans...especially when they are as passionate about their produce as these fellows.

Whether it is something as simple as mushrooms that look like bacon (but can actually be used like both) or something more complicated as, say, the rest of your life, just remember that things aren’t always what they seem.  And that can go both ways.  So keep your eyes open for the good (it’s there I promise you!), but at the same time do not be blind to the not-so-good that is sometimes cloaked in sheep’s clothing.

So onwards with eyes wide open friends!