I have a group of girl friends, foodies and restaurant people who I go out to dinner with a couple of times a month. It is a great opportunity to try new restaurants. As foodies we always order far too much food. (Pete, my lucky husband, loves the leftovers.) However one of us is a vegetarian and I have been really surprised by the lack of vegetarian offerings on a lot of the menus that I have seen. Can’t Vegetarians be foodies too? Do they have to go to restaurants that are exclusively ‘vegetarian’ to have any kind of choice? Like a lot of people I flirted with vegetarianism in college, and I abstained from meat for several years. Eating meat is not an ethical or moral choice for me. I happen to find vegetables terribly interesting. I really love the variety of vegetarian cuisine. I think that vegetarian cooking at its best is exciting, flavorful and delicious. It is a pity that more restaurants do not have interesting vegetarian foods offered on their menus. We have been eating Vegetarian a few times a week for a couple of months at this point. It’s easier on the wallet and it is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. Last night for dinner we had a simple dish inspired by Deborah Madison’s ‘Local Flavors’ Cookbook. It was sautéed leeks that had been cooked down with a little bit of butter until they had a melted quality to them, then we added fresh oyster mushrooms from the market, a generous pinch of cumin, chopped cilantro and salt and pepper. We devoured this on hearty country bread slices that had been toasted in olive oil. Served with a green salad this was a lovely light meal. You could easily top the mushroom toasts with cheese if you wanted to. I would recommend a dry Monterey Jack or Aged Cheddar.
Oyster Mushrooms and Leeks on Toast
Adapted and Inspired by Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
1 large leek, cleaned, use only the white and light green parts, sliced into rings
½ pound oyster mushrooms
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. chopped Cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of thick country bread
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the leeks and cook the leeks for 10-15 minutes, until shiny, soft and translucent.
- Add the oyster mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are soft.
- Add the cumin, chopped cilantro, taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Set aside
- To toast the bread in olive oil, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Once the oil is hot, place the bread in the pan and gently toast over medium heat until lightly browned. Flip and toast on the second side. Set aside.
- Place the bread on a plate and top the bread with the leek and mushroom mixture.