Braised Mushrooms with Herbs

You can create a simple yet elegant side dish with the pleasing consistency of mushrooms accentuated by the great taste of herbs. The recipe also provides plenty of nutritional punch because of the vitamins and minerals in the mushrooms.

Choose either baby bella or cremini mushrooms. The bella feature a rich flavor and meaty texture. Cremini, with brown skin and creamy tan flesh, provide a more pronounced flavor than their button mushroom cousins. Braising releases the juice of mushrooms and brings out the earthy flavor.

Given the wonderful taste and nutritional power of mushrooms, their rise in popularity is not surprising. The French began cultivating mushrooms in the 18th century, but prior to 1940 the most widely available mushroom in the U.S. was the Italian brown variety. From this early lust for the fungi came a demand for more exotic mushrooms, including shiitake and Portobello.

The red wine, garlic, thyme and poultry seasoning combine to impart a classic taste. But it is the herbs de Provence that provide the decidedly unique flavor. Herbs de Provence is essentially a mixture of French and Italian herbs, including bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and French culinary lavender. The combination is complex and aromatic.

The olive oil serves to unite the ingredients’ flavors, which are released as they are sautéed. As the red wine boils off it leaves behind a hint of the unique flavor of the grapes used to make it.

Easy to prepare, this side dish is a wonderful companion to many entrees, including baked, herbed chicken or fish dishes.

Braised Mushrooms with Herbs - Makes 4 servings.

* 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

* 1 Tbsp. minced shallots

* 1 tsp. minced garlic

* 1 pound baby bella or cremini mushrooms, cut in half and wiped clean with a damp cloth

* 2 fresh thyme sprigs

* 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

* 1/2 tsp. herbs de Provence

* 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

* 1/2 cup red wine (optional)

* 1/2 cup low-fat, reduced-sodium beef broth

* 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

* Salt to taste

In wide skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until just golden (careful not to burn). Add mushrooms, fresh herbs, herbs de Provence and poultry seasoning. Increase heat to medium high and stir all ingredients so that mushrooms are well coated.

Cook mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add red wine and cook for 2 minutes (if using), then add beef broth. Cover pan for about 10 minutes until mushroom juices have been released, then remove lid.

Cook until liquid is almost completely reduced. And pepper and salt to taste.

Per serving: 110 calories, 7 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 6 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 65 mg sodium

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $91 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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