For The Love Of Mushrooms

By Dalia B. Tepper

Have you ever ordered your favorite dish in a restaurant, only to be left hungry for the anticipated flavors? Or worse, did your carefully selected healthy choice arrive loaded with ingredients that you had long ago eliminated from your diet? If so, you’re not alone.

As mushroom aficionados whose craving for the divine fungi has been left unsatisfied by too many disappointing restaurant meals, my 11-year old daughter and I finally decided to have fun and save both money and calories by cooking our favorites at home.

It has been an endless adventure to match each mushroom species (i.e. Shiitake, Portobello, Champignon, Oyster, etc.) with the ingredients that best enhance its own distinctive flavor. Even more of a challenge is coming up with our own, healthier recipes that do not drown the fungi’s distinctive tastes in dairy, saturated or (hydrogenated) transfats, pesticide-laden produce or other undesirables.

Now that organic mushrooms are popping up at Whole Foods Markets and specialty stores, we’re really getting spoiled by their aroma and extra kick of flavors in soups, stews, omelets, quiches, crepes, tortes and other gourmet fare. We use organic and locally grown or produced ingredients for both health and gustatory reasons.

Don’t panic—organic foods won’t bust your budget. They are often comparable in price to non-organics of equal quality, and even when certain organic items cost a little more, you end up saving money in the long run, two ways: First, you’ll find that less (or no) food is wasted and second, there is a health bonus when you avoid ingesting pesticides, chemical additives, and other harmful toxins. It’s also rewarding to hear the ooohs and aaahs your culinary efforts are sure to provoke.

So, if you are a fellow gourmet and mushroom aficionado, our Chicken Marsala is a sure way to snap everyone’s taste buds into a smart salute. While this flavor-packed Southern Italian dish comes in various configurations, the following recipe has worked wonders at our dinner table. Much credit for it goes to my daughter (see her slide show elsewhere on this blog about the “Healthy Sushi” she prepared for the family).

Don’t be afraid to improvise—and remember that no recipe is complete without a big helping of LOVE.

Disclaimer: Although I’ve been cooking for family and friends for decades, I’m an amateur compared to the FreeRangeClub’s resident culinary expert and nationally syndicated food columnist, Catharine L. Kaufman—a.k.a. The Kitchen Shrink. So, while you may direct your praise or critiques of the following recipe to me (at [email protected]), if you need some real cooking advice, email Catharine (at [email protected]).

CHICKEN MARSALA—HEALTHY VERSION (use organic ingredients if possible)

4 (5 oz total) chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ Cup Marsala wine
½ Cup chicken stock (fat skimmed from top)
Juice of half a lemon
1 Cup mushrooms (your choice of type) sliced
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Seasoned whole wheat or buckwheat flour
Fresh-ground black pepper and sea-salt to taste
(Optional: ¼ teaspoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce & 1 tsp dry basil)

1) Mix together pepper, salt, and flour. Coat chicken with seasoned flour.
2. In stainless steel skillet, slightly warm oil on low heat; place chicken breasts in skillet;  lightly brown them on both sides; scoop them up one by one and set aside on warmed plate and cover.
3. Remove skillet from burner while you add wine and stir until heated. Return skillet to burner; add juice, stock, and mushrooms. Stir, reduce heat, and cook for about 10 minutes, until sauce is partially reduced.
4. Return browned chicken breasts to skillet. Spoon sauce over chicken.
5. Cover and cook for about 5–10 minutes or until chicken is done.
6. Serve over small portions of mashed potatoes, pasta, rice or pilaf—placing chicken first, then spooning sauce over it, and topping it with chopped fresh parsley for garnish. 7. A side dish of steamed vegetables adds nutritional balance to the meal.

Serving size: Half a chicken breast or less, with up to 1/3 cup of sauce.
Chicken breast has less cholesterol than dark meat, but provides plenty of protein.
Go easy on the salt—especially if you add Worcestershire Sauce.
Mushrooms are rich in minerals—especially high in potassium—although their fiber content depends on the variety used.
Starchy side dishes add to the carb content—a caution for diabetics.
Vegetable side dishes are filling, but most are carb-free.

One Comment on “For The Love Of Mushrooms”

  1. Karen K
    [email protected] |

    Planning on making this healthy Chicken Marsala dish for Sunday dinner. I will need to hide the mushrooms from my 13 year old by cutting them into small pieces, versus the nicely sliced version in this recipe. Thank you for the recipe and the suggested sides. :o)

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