When Mushrooms Need Greens

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You know how sometimes you make a recipe because it sounds good, and then find that there’s a sort of gap in the flavor?  I found that with Mushroom Cannellini Paprikas from Appetitie for Reduction.  I’d looked over the recipe before and kept skipping it because red wine is a big component of the sauce, and I can’t drink it.  Red grapes and I simply do not get along.  But after discovering that the Scarlet Barley would be a great way to use up the beets that were still hanging around from the farmer’s market, I went with the cookbook’s suggestion and made the mushrooms to go along with it.  Nothing like a quick scroll through Google for cooking substitutes to make recipes like this work!

mushroom cannellini paprikas
I’m usually quite impressed with stuff from Appetite For Reduction, which isn’t to say I was unimpressed by this recipe, just that it needed something a bit more.  I’m sure the flavor would have been different were I able to use the wine, but even so I think the dish would benefit from something green.  Nothing fancy, just a bed of steamed kale or chard to serve it over and give it that little extra oomph I’ve come to expect from vegan food.  Or you could totally go with my mom’s idea and serve the mushrooms over pasta, preferably something tri-color.  With greens, of course.  (Which we’re definitely going to try at some point.)

mushroom cannellini paprikas & scarlet wheatberries
As for the Scarlet Barley…you’re probably looking at the picture and thinking, “That doesn’t looking like barley!”  And you’d be right, because it isn’t; it’s wheat berries!  We haven’t had pearl barley around the house since I used it up making veggie barley soup, and I’ve got a jar of wheat berries on the shelves that has been staring at me since, you guessed it, they were on sale at the co-op.  So of course my first thought when looking for something to use instead of barley was, “Hey, wheat berries are sort of the same size!”  This sort of thinking can either turn out awesome or disastrous when it comes to cooking, as some of you well know…

mushroom wheat berry dinner
In this case, it wound up somewhere in between.  I have the feeling that barley would have absorbed more of the beet color, making it more “scarlet,” and the water-to-wheat-berry ratio I found on the Internet was definitely a bit off.  I wound up having to drain some liquid once the wheat berries were done cooking.  Other than that, they turned out pretty tasty!  Except, have you ever noticed how gruesome it is to cook with beets?  Especially shredded beets.  Lots and lots of pink-red juices to deal with.  If you have a wooden cutting board, learn from my mistake and grate your beets over a plate…

mushroom wheat berry closeup
So this meal wound up being half-successful.  The flavors were good, and I really enjoy the hearty, chewy texture of wheat berries.  But a green veggie would definitely have made it feel more complete.  I do want to make the barley dish with actual barley at some point to see how it’s supposed to turn out.  And wheat berries will be figuring into something else as soon as I can figure out what!  I’m thinking curried wheat berry salad.

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About the Author:

Sam has been eating a plant-based diet since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of plant-based food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a former member of Toastmasters International and was awarded a Competent Communicator designation for public speaking. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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  1. Susan  October 5, 2011

    I made this combination a few days ago, and I served it with some steamed broccoli on the side. It definitely benefits from the greens! They are two yummy recipes, though.

    • Sam  October 5, 2011

      Oooh, broccoli would be quite good if you put the mushrooms over pasta, too. I’ll have to try that, thanks! 🙂

  2. rhelune  October 5, 2011

    The recipe for “paprikas” can be found here:

    I tried it. It was gross. It’s not similar to paprikas at all, the red wine is too overwhelming, thyme is not used in paprikas in Europe and it’s overwhelming, too (who knows, perhaps Americans call a completely different dish paprikas). I had no fresh dill, but with all these terrible flavours, it’s for the better.

    That’s the reason Appetite for Reduction is not on my to buy list. If I find some other free recipes from the book I’ll try them, and if I like them, I might buy the book.

    • Sam  October 5, 2011

      Don’t let the paprikas discourage you. Every other recipe I’ve tried from AFR has been stellar. Buffalo tempeh & “cool” slaw, mashed sweet potatoes and apples, spicy black-eyed peas and greens, 2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma, cranberry cashew biryani…there’s a lot to like. Just not the mushrooms. 😉

  3. Mandee  October 10, 2011

    I think so many dishes benefit from a side of greens, I know I often forget to add them but when I do the meal is more complete.

    • Sam  October 10, 2011

      I’m finding that massaged kale salad goes with just about everything.