I have had the great opportunity to trample through the woods and fields just outside Rock Creek National Park to forage for edible plants, berries, flowers and mushrooms this fall. Foraging aside, I have spent endless hours during Covid inside Rock Creek park. I joke that it is my second home but it really is: I don’t start any morning now without hiking or biking in it, no matter the weather, and end many days with a quick jaunt on trails. Spending so much time in Rock Creek has made me keenly aware of the subtle changes every day to the spectacular landscape from the multitude of distinct shades of green leaves in early spring to the trails disappearing afoot as they become layered with leaf cover in the fall. And, my connection to the land has deepened as I have learned about the myriad edible plants and mushrooms living in it.
Inspired by the abundance of mushrooms I learned about on outings with expert forager Matt Cohen, I picked up an assortment at my local farmer’s market recently (I don’t trust myself to know mushrooms without a guide :)). The vendor at the market has an incredibly diverse abundance of mushrooms and I like to get a mixed basket, to prepare dishes with a range of mushroom textures and flavors. When I cook with these mushrooms, I make them the star of the dish and I never want to upstage them. The dish I prepared includes just a few more ingredients besides mushrooms, with acorn squash playing a strong supporting role. This dish could easily be a centerpiece dish for a Shabbat meal. Scooping the squash-mushroom mix with a piece of challah would be delicious. And, of course, with Thanksgiving coming up, this fall-centric dish would be great for the holiday (and you could decorate your table with some turkey tail mushrooms. They also make for a unique chewing gum!). I love dukkah, a nuts and spice blend (lots of different combination options). The one I used has hazelnuts that adds a crunchy texture and complex flavor without overwhelming the mushrooms (and I added just a light dusting of it).
Mushrooms and Roasted Acorn Squash with Dukkah
1 Acorn squash with slices in the sides for ventilation
3-4 cups mixed mushrooms. Many of the mushrooms I chose were delicate and could be gently torn into smaller pieces by hand. Otherwise, cut them into generally uniform medium-size pieces
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1/3-1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt (I prefer Oatly, Forager and Kite Hill brands)
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp dukkah
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When ready, place acorn squash on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Baked approximately 35-45 minutes until soft inside.
- Add olive oil to a sauté pan and add onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
- Add mushrooms and cook until soft, approximately 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt as cooking. Cooking them until crispy would also be delicious.
- Add salt, freshly ground pepper to mushrooms.
- Once the squash is done, let cool a bit. Cut in half and remove seeds. Scoop out the insides and place in a bowl. Add the yogurt, a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt and mix well together. I liked to keep it a bit chunky for an interesting texture.
- Place squash on a platter and put the mushroom mixture on top. Sprinkle with the dukkah and serve warm.
PS: Some pictures from the recent mushroom outing, below.