Lemony Garlic Mushrooms on a bed of Coucous

After last years attempt at cooking a turkey, I've come to the conclusion that Thanksgiving is much less work for a vegetarian, or at least, much less work than a vegetarian attempting to cook a turkey for a crowd.  I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's rewind.

Last year, I felt as though Thanksgiving was lacking a sort of je-ne-sais-quoi.  I came up with a brilliant idea to remedy the situation. I would go and pick out a free-range turkey (which, in retrospect, seems remarkably similar to picking out a Christmas tree), and then sit and stare at it for hours.  Okay, maybe not hours, but there was a brief moment when I was standing in my kitchen staring at the big bird thinking to myself that I really had gone mad. Martha Stewart's guide to preparing an amazing turkey stated that I need to soak it overnight in a salt brine, so I did.  I realized at the last possible minute that I would need a some sort of pot or tub to soak the turkey in.  Digging deep into the problem solving part of my brain, I decided to use my vegetable crisper as a vessel. This didn't amuse Mr. H one bit.  His not wanting to partake in the whole turkey debauchery was made clear by this point, so I invited over a few guests - half whom cancelled at the last minute - which ultimately left me with a ridiculous amount of food.  A ridiculous amount of food became a ridiculous amount of leftovers, a sure-fire method to put me off turkey for life.

Let's sit back and take a deep deep breath... --sigh--. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and my speans (very narrow and tight fitted jean derived from the words spandex and jeans) are feeling a little snug. And when your speans are feeling a little snug, you know you've got a problem on your



I'd like to blame my tight pants on the drier, but this time that excuse falls flat. Despite the amount of food that Mr. H and myself have put back over the last few days, the fridge still appears to have enough to feed a small army, maybe 10 or so. Honestly, I can't keep up the pace with these leftovers, and now that the end of November is quietly merging with December my house has become fully stocked with Christmas treats. This year I am obsessed with the mint truffle Hershey's kisses, which might possibly be a new introduction to the Christmas chocolate lineup - I'm not quite sure.

I've been on a sort-of cooking triathlon. With our Christmas tree up, and the lights on the patio shining bright, we are a few steps away from becoming Santa's village. The older I get, the further I am drifting from that warm-hearted Christmas feeling, and I refuse to believe that I need to have children to bring it back. I am still a kid at heart, and gosh darn-it, I'm bringing Christmas back to the Hands' in a major way. But, before I start with the Christmas cookies, egg nog, mulled wine, and all of the other festive recipes I've been back-logging since last year, I thought I could squeeze in one more recipe for a sort-of salad/healthy meal.

I made this recipe on a whim. My original intention was a roasted chanterelle and wheat berry concoction, but it ultimately turned into a rich and creamy, lemony earthy saute of mushrooms and garlic, piled over couscous and topped with arugula and Grana Padano cheese, then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh ground pepper. I've made it twice this week, which is probably why our left-over situation is out of control. I urge you to try this dish. Mr. H boasts that it's my best yet. Dry roasting the mushrooms, a new technique I am smitten with, imparts a glorious texture and flavor. I swear, I've been dry frying mushrooms non-stop for the past few weeks. A sensational infusion of flavors, my mouth is salivating as we speak. 



makes 4 servings

notes: choosing a variety of mushrooms will add texture. I used Shittake, large Oyster, Maitake, and Crimini, because these mushrooms are all in season on the West Coast. It is important to first fry the mushrooms with no seasoning (dry fry). This method brings out some wonderful flavors in the mushrooms, prevents them from becoming soggy, and retains their shape.


1 cup dry couscous

1 cup broth

5 cups variety of mushrooms, chopped

1 large shallot, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup wine

1/2 cup broth

3 tbsp cream

juice from 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup arugula

shaved Grana Padano cheese

olive oil to drizzle and cracked black pepper

In a small bowl, add 1 cup of stock to the dry couscous and stir. Cover and set to the side.

Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Cut them into bit size pieces. Place them into a large frying pan on low-medium heat, and fry dry until they start to moisten and turn light brown. 

While the mushrooms are cooking, add the sliced shallot, garlic and 3 tbsp olive oil to a small frying pan. On medium heat, fry the shallot and garlic until they start to turn light brown. Add the wine and boil for a few minutes to evaporate some of the alcohol. Add the broth and cream and stir.

Add the cream sauce to the mushrooms. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms in the sauce for a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to absorb.

Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork.

To serve, add a scoop of couscous, followed by a generous serving of mushrooms and sauce, topped with arugula and shaved Grana Padano cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and cracked pepper.