Mushrooms, oh mushrooms! They are an ultimate ingredient sent straight from the heavens. Mushrooms are amazing for a wide variety of reasons. One is their versatility- sauté them, bake them, roast them, grill them- you get the idea. Another reason for their amazingness is that they complement and enhance so many dishes and cuisines. French, Japanese, Northern Italian and Chinese cooking all would be lost without the heavenly mushroom. The final reason, at least in today’s list as I’m sure there are many, many reasons, mushrooms are just so amazing is one that you probably are aware of, but have never put a name to it. It is the mushroom’s umami quality.
Uma-whatnow? Umami has long been defined by the Japanese as the fifth taste (in addition to sweet, salty, sour and bitter), which is described as a delicious savory or meatiness. You know that indescribable rich taste you get from a mouthwatering cut of steak, an oyster, or a generous shaving of Parmesan cheese? That, my friends, is umami taking over your tastebuds.
In 1985 scientists determined that the umami taste was caused by foods high in glutamate. In the last 15 or so years, it has become a popular term among chefs, critics and foodies in the United States so you may have heard it before on Top Chef or the Food Network. To me, umami describes a bite that isn’t a sweet dessert, but makes you go “oh-my-this-is-melting-in-my-mouth-amazing-is-this-real-life-right-now???”, or, you know, something along those lines.
These balsamic roasted mushrooms will definitely make you experience that fifth taste. Chop up some mushrooms, toss them with balsamic and herbs, then bake until tender and this dish could not be any easier. Serve alongside some steak, tossed with a cream sauce pasta, on top of a spinach salad or just eat them by the forkful. Wait until you see how I serve them later this week!
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried parsley)
- 16 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick foil and set aside.
- Whisk together the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard and parsley in a medium bowl. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper then place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden and tender, tossing once during cooking.