maitake asparagus sautee

you can stop short before adding in the beans, if you just want mushroom and vegetables…

I made this on New Year’s Day, and it was a hit. People asked for the recipe, though one person said she couldn’t believe “those ugly mushrooms could taste that good!”  Yes, I used organic ingredients…

The ruffly-looking maitake translates as “dancing mushroom” in Japanese. Eaten for more than 3,000 years, maitakes were an alternative currency in Japan, worth their weight in silver. Since they often grow to 50 pounds, it’s said that people danced for joy when they found maitakes. Maitakes go by other names too, and one of my favorites is “hen of the woods,” because it tastes a little like chicken.

In Japan, maitakes are one of the medicinal mushrooms (like shiitakes and reishis) used to promote wellness and vitality. Grown also in the US and North America, maitakes are said to strengthen the immune system, regulate blood pressure, balance insulin levels and cholesterol, and help us lose weight. I love their rich flavor and meaty texture.  Here, the asparagus are a harbinger of spring!

Serves 4

¼-½ C extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)* 1 can Eden black-eyed peas, drained, or 2 C cooked
4 cloves garlic, pressed 4 C fresh maitake mushrooms**
juice of 1 fresh lemon (about ¼ C) 1 lb asparagus, cut into 2” pieces, or other veggies
1 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil 1 tsp good salt like Celtic or Himalayan
1 C chopped scallions, optional

Gently warm the EVOO in a large skillet. Add garlic and mushrooms along with herbs and pepper and salt. The flame will be medium. Stir once or twice, then let mushrooms cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. The edges will start to brown. Add asparagus pieces (or other veggies) and let mixture cook, uncovered, over the same heat for another 5 minutes. Then stir in the beans. Let mixture simmer (still uncovered) another 5 minutes. Mix in lemon juice and serve garnished with scallions.

*This is fine with ¼ C EVOO, but I used ½ C for entertaining because it makes this sauté decadent.

**Maitakes aren’t cheap, but they’re so extraordinary that I like to use a loosely filled cup per person. You can substitute other mushrooms for some of the maitakes, or use more beans and fewer ‘shrooms.