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Sautéed mushrooms without a drop of added oil are simply delicious

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

If you're following the Whole-food, Plant-based, no-added-oil lifestyle recommended by Forks Over Knives, then you may be wondering - as I did - how you're supposed to sauté without oil. I was dubious until I took the Rouxbe online Ultimate Plant-Based Culinary Course, sponsored by Forks Over Knives. I whole-heartedly recommend either the Essentials course to get started, or the Ultimate for more accomplished cooks. These courses will open up new culinary worlds, and give you the confidence to rock this 'way of eating'!

The mushrooms at my local Winco looked especially good, so I bought a LARGE-ish quantity in anticipation of mushroom gravy - using my Creamy Chikin Gravy recipe - for dinner, and then whatever was leftover might find their way into a creamy mushroom soup. I often 'bulk cook' items that require a bit more time or effort, then nip and tuck those ingredients into two or more dishes during the week.

Mushrooms add a wonderful 'meaty' texture to dishes, and are recognized by chefs the world over for their amazing ability to create savory, rich flavors called umami, or the Fifth Taste, thanks to the presence of an amino acid called glutamate. Did you know that mushrooms, although considered a vegetable, are neither a plant or animal?

Umami can be found in the following plant-based foods:

  • Mushrooms

  • Tomatoes

  • Corn

  • Green peas

  • Asparagus

  • Garlic

  • Green tea

  • Kimchi

  • Soy-based foods

  • Seaweeds

Corn? Green peas? Yeah, I didn't know that either. Umami is a Japanese word meaning "a pleasant savory taste". Apparently, the fermentation process is darn good at releasing the Umami taste - think of Kimchi or soy sauce. The Umami flavor is a marker for protein (made up of amino acids, and essential for life). 'Umami" was first coined in 1908 by a chemist at Tokyo University called Kikunae Ikeda. He had noticed this particular taste in asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat, but it was strongest in dashi – that rich stock made from kombu (kelp) which is widely used as a flavor base in Japanese cooking. So he homed in on kombu, eventually pinpointing glutamate, an amino acid, as the source of savoury wonder. He then learned how to produce it in industrial quantities and patented the notorious flavor enhancer MSG.

Getting back to the Rouxbe Plant-Based Culinary Course, you can see from my assignment notes, above, that I was very surprised with the result of sautéing the mushrooms sans oil. It was a turning point for me.

As you can see, I use a good non-stick pan - although I've also done it successfully using cast iron. And, having your Mis en Place - everything prepped and ready to go is important. It allows you to focus on the cooking, and you'll achieve better results if your attention isn't divided between trying to cook, run around to find that last ingredient, the measuring spoons or whatever.

I simply have the chopped mushrooms in the hot pan, with some white wine and water nearby. I'll use the liquids about mid-way through the cooking, first to keep the mushrooms from sticking to the pan, and then use the wine to both flavor and deglaze or pull up the flavorful 'fond' from the bottom of the bottom of the pan.

Above, you're looking at mushrooms that haven't yet had even a drop of added water - or oil, of course. They're releasing their own incredibly flavorful 'juice'.

A few more minutes and I began to add wine (dry white wine ... unless you just happen to have a bottle of Marsala), rather than water. I happen to love the Château Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc, and always seem to have a bottle of that open and ready.

And, some seasoning:

  • Salt - a couple pinches of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

  • A few grinds of pepper

  • Ground shallots (or onion powder) - about a half teaspoon

  • Dried thyme - about a half teaspoon

  • Ground Sage - a pinch

The aroma was beginning to be incredible. Keep on keepin' on and reduce the heat a bit. Add a splash more wine. Taste. Adjust seasonings. If the 'shrooms are looking too dry, add more wine. Yeah, I'm from that Julia Child generation.

So, now that you have this big glorious pile of sautéed mushrooms, what are you going to do with them?

Here are some ideas:

  • Mushroom gravy to go over baked potatoes, or my Oil-free, vegan Meatloaf.

  • A sauce for pasta? Yeah, just thin out my Creamy Chikin Gravy with a bit more plant milk and you've got a pasta sauce.

  • Toss 'em into a soup or stew?

  • Make Cream of Mushroom soup? Again, just riff off the Chikin Gravy using the Better Than Bouillon Mushroom Base as your broth, and rock n roll toward a great, creamy soup.

  • Add them to a rice dish? Like a pilaf?

  • What about gravy for a nice lentil loaf?

Mushroom gravy? Yeah. I used the Creamy Chikin Gravy here, but you could also go with my Easiest Vegan Brown Gravy, too!

The mushroom gravy was killer, ladled over some Gardein Homestyle Beefless Tips.

What will you use the no-oil sautéed mushrooms for?

Tell me.

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