Recipe: Wild Mushroom Toast 3 Ways
Fall in Southeast Alaska usually brings on the rain… and the rain brings on the mushrooms!
Our rain-soaked mossy forests are home to an incredible variety of fungi species, living in symbiosis with old growth spruce and hemlock trees, and doing the ecosystem’s dirty work of breaking down dead organisms and recycling them back into the ‘food chain’.
Last year I finally learned to confidently identify a few of the common edible (and non-edible) wild mushroom species growing throughout our region’s Tongass Forest. And over the last few weeks, every hike and dog walk has turned into a mushroom hunt; bringing home pockets, bags, and baskets full of treasures found along the forest floor.
What’s even more fun than seeking out these edible treasures, has been coming up with delicious ways to cook, eat, and enjoy the seasonal fruits of foraging. These three variations of a mushroom toast have been my favorite easy way to enjoy this season’s fresh wild mushroom harvest for breakfast, lunch, or a gourmet snack anytime of the day.
Gather & Prep Your Mushrooms
Like any wild plant or berry you hope to consume, you should be 100% certain you’ve correctly identified a mushroom before eating it. It’s important to consult a good guidebook for your area, and in the case of learning mushrooms, I’d strongly recommend seeking out the help of someone who really knows what they’re doing to get you familiar in person, as it can be difficult to discern subtle differences in species from photos alone.
The three species I’ve found most easy to identify, and most abundant right now in our neck of the woods are hedgehogs, golden chanterelles, and yellowfoot. Sort through your mushrooms, brushing or cutting off any dirt any foresty bits along the way.
First, Dry Saute: Wild mushrooms hold a lot of water, so it’s a good idea to slice up and dry saute your shrooms for a few minutes before adding in any fats or flavorings for your recipe. Allow the mushrooms to release their liquid and let most of it evaporate off in a medium-hot skillet.
Next, Butter, Garlic, Wine: The holy mushroom trinity. Once your liquid has mostly bubbled out, add in a tablespoon or two of butter or olive oil, a couple diced garlic cloves, and a splash of white wine if you have it on hand. Saute until wine has simmered out, garlic is browned, and mushrooms are cooked to your liking. Now's a good time to sprinkle in any herbs like thyme or rosemary too.
This is your mushroom medley that can now be adapted into a delicious toast, best created with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread!
Toast no. 1: Mushroom Avocado
An earthy twist on the millennial classic. Drizzle sourdough bread lightly with olive oil on both sides and toast to perfection in a hot skillet or pan. Thinly slice avocado and layer across your toast, mashing lightly with a fork as you go. Sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning, and top with your sauteed mushroom medley. Add a poached or fried egg to make it a meal, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Toast no. 2: Savory Tomato Butter & Mushrooms
Mix 5 Tbs softened butter with 2 Tbs tomato paste mashing with a fork until well blended. Sprinkle in salt and a little parmesan cheese if you have it as you mix. You may end up with extra tomato butter, which is a beautiful thing; put it on ALL the toast! Slather your sourdough bread with the tomato butter and set under a broiler or in a hot oven for a few minutes, until bread begins to turn golden brown and the tomato butter begins to carmelize. Remove toasts and top with mushroom medley. Add a poached or fried egg to make it a meal, and top with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Deliciously savory!
Toast no. 3: Caramelized Onion & Parmesan
Rich, decadent, sweet & savory. Slice and caramelize a whole onion, because if you’re going to dedicate the time to the flavor you may as well make a batch to eat all day. Drizzle both sides of bread with olive oil and toast to your liking in a hot skillet or pan. Top with caramelized onions, mushroom medley, and sprinkle with shredded or grated parmesan cheese. Toast a few minutes under the broiler to melt cheese. Finish off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a spritz of lemon. Add a poached or fried egg to make it a meal!