Wonderfully Confounding Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Intense tasting roasted mushrooms -- thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.
Intense tasting roasted mushrooms — thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.

When is a no-no a triumphant yes-yes?

When it is this recipe and technique for “Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts.”

You know that old adage that one should never wash or rinse mushrooms with water but simply brush them clean? (Not that I ever actually followed that, mind you.)

Well, leave it to America’s Test Kitchen to turn that line of thinking completely topsy-turvy on its head.

In this super simple side dish recipe, you not only introduce water to uncooked, fresh mushrooms big-time, but you actually soak and submerge them in salted water for a whole 10 minutes.

How crazy is that?

Crazy brilliant, actually. Much like brining your holiday turkey, this same technique imparts moisture and flavors the mushrooms from the outside in.

This recipe is from the new “The Side Dish Bible: 1001 Perfect Recipes for Every Vegetable, Rice, Grain, and Bean Dish You Will Ever Need” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

This huge tome is a collection of 1,001 side dish recipes that is sure to complete any weeknight meal or festive holiday repast. At this time of year, it’s a must-have for dishes such as “Caesar Brussels Sprouts,” “Freekeh Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Raisins,” “Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle and Lime,” and “Slow-Cooker Creamy Braised Leeks.”

After the cremini and shiitake mushrooms finish their time in the salt bath, they are patted dry, before being roasted on high heat for 45 minutes.

Soak the mushrooms in salted water for 10 minutes.
Soak the mushrooms in salted water for 10 minutes.

During that time, the mushrooms contract and shrink. Their moisture gets cooked out, leaving them with a denser texture.

After they’re done, they’re just tossed in a bowl with grated Parmesan, pine nuts, chopped parsley, a squirt of lemon juice, and a little melted butter. Although the recipe calls for 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, that’s quite a lot. I actually used about 1/3 cup instead to let the mushrooms shine through.

That’s because taste of these mushrooms is unbelievable — concentrated and intense like that of dried mushrooms yet these are soft, tender and meaty in texture. It’s a good bet that you’ve never enjoyed mushrooms that taste quite so, well, blatantly mushroomy as these.

Serve them alongside most anything. Or use them atop soft polenta or pasta.

Just serve them. Period.

A perfect side dish or even a vegetarian main.
A perfect side dish or even a vegetarian main.

Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

(Serves 4)

5 teaspoons table salt, for brining

1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and left whole if small, halved if medium, or quartered if large

1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps larger than 3 inches halved

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 ounce Parmesan cheese or less, grated (1/3 to 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk 5 teaspoons salt into 2 quarts water in large container until dissolved. Add cremini and shiitake mushrooms, cover with plate or bowl to submerge, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Drain mushrooms, then pat dry with paper towels. Transfer mushrooms to rimmed baking sheet and toss with oil to coat. Roast until liquid has completely evaporated, 35 to 45 minutes.

Carefully stir mushrooms and continue to roast until mushrooms are deeply browned, 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer mushrooms to large serving bowl and toss with Parmesan, pine nuts, parsley, melted butter, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Per Serving: 230 calories; 18g total fat; 6g saturated fat; 20mg cholesterol; 220mg sodium; 10g total carbohydrates; 0g dietary fiber; 7g total sugars; 9g protein.

Adapted From “The Side Dish Bible” by America’s Test Kitchen

More From America’s Test Kitchen: Sauteed Radishes with Vadouvan Curry and Almonds

And: Modern Cauliflower Gratin

And: Broiled Broccoli Rabe

Plus Thanksgiving Stuffing to Enjoy: Fig and Pistachio Stuffing

And: Italian Chard Stuffing

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