Bright and Happy [Lemon-Herb Wild Mushrooms with Israeli Couscous]

Resolutions? Not up in here. 

I’m not much for them. Setting myself up to feel badly that I haven’t kept a promise made 12 months prior isn’t my idea of productive. That said, I do usually try to start a new year off on a healthier foot. This is mostly because I have eaten and drank myself into early diabetes and alcoholism over the Christmas holidays. Am I over exaggerating? Unlikely. 

Healthy to me means adjusting my eating habits, not existing on raw carrot sticks and lemon juice with cayenne for a month. Food is not the enemy and the people who make it out as such give me a wicked case of the face-palms. I’ve been filling up on better-for-you grains and swapping out my usual heavy pasta toppings with lots of quick fried vegetables and nuts. Finding dishes that are as delicious as they are good for you makes a healthy lifestyle adjustments a lot easier to stick to. 

I always turn to my good friend, Fungus, when I need something rich and meaty… without the actual richness and meatiness. Mushrooms are the only vegetable that naturally contain Vitamin D. Any other natural food sources of Vitamin D are from animal, poultry or seafood origin. So when it’s mid January – late March and you’re missing the sun and feeling a little down in the dumps, grab a handful of mushrooms and fry them up. Your mood will be brighter and your tummy will be happier because of them. 

I cooked this decadent lemon-herb mushroom dish on CTV Ottawa Morning Live today (see my nervousness here!) and wanted to get the recipe up right quick so you could whip it up over the weekend if you’re so inclined. I’d like that.  I think you would, too! It’s going to fill you and and keep you satisfied through the afternoon if you have it for lunch, and would be super delicious with an arugula salad on the side for dinner. 

Lemon-Herb Wild Mushrooms with Israeli Couscous
serves 4 as side, 2 as main

A note on browning mushrooms: Really take care to be patient when browning the mushrooms. Don’t overcrowd the pan or salt the mushrooms before they’ve browned. Don’t be shy with the oil, this helps dissipate the moisture in the pan and will help them crisp up. 

1 1/2 cups dry Israeli Couscous
Olive oil
2 cups water or stock
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
fresh ground pepper

1 1/2lbs wild mushrooms (chanterelle, shiitake, oyster, porcini etc)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp tarragon
3 tbsp fresh Italian/flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
high quality olive oil, to garnish
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, to garnish (optional) 

In a medium sauce pot over med heat, add a glug or two of olive oil (maybe 2tbsp) and th couscous. Let it cook, stirring every minute or so, until couscous is lightly toasted. Add the water  or stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and let cook, covered, until couscous has absorbed all the liquid, 8-10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, parsley and a generous amount of pepper.  Taste for salt and add more if needed. 

While couscous cooks, take a heavy (cast iron would be ideal!) skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add a good layer of olive oil to the pan and place 1 layer of mushrooms down. Let them brown well (2-3 minutes) and them flip and brown the opposite side. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat until all your mushrooms are brown and crispy and delicious. 

Wipe the pan down and add 1 tbsp olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms back along with the herbs, lemon zest and a pinch or two of salt. Toss a few times to combine and remove from heat.  Add the lemon juice.

Spoon couscous into a serving dish and top with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with pine nuts, olive oil and any remaining parsley. Pour a glass of wine (or seltzer if you’re being really good and healthy) and enjoy!