Discovering the rich, savory umami flavored mushroom “bacon” in the plant-based Food Shift Kitchen was a big surprise for graduate Danny. He said, “WOW, They cook bacon? I thought they didn’t cook meat. Then I found out that it was just simple mushrooms! I was fascinated by that. I love meat and bacon and was amazed that you could make a vegetable taste like meat. Now I’ll add a handful to anything."
Danny’s curiosity was sparked, prompting more experiments in veggie substitutions and incorporating other vegetables into his meals, feeding his personal wellness. Reflecting on his expereince, he shared, ”At Food Shift, I brought vegetables back into my life. You can replace a lot of meat with vegetables, to make the food sit lighter and digest easier. It’s taking care of yourself: mind, body, and spirit.”
“In my apprenticeship, I felt like a kid because the lessons sparked my interest. Chef encouraged me to get creative. Now in my life today, my mind is open. I want to listen and learn, and that’s a trait I picked up taking the course. When I cook now, I ask myself, what is my take? Two of my favorite takes: adding mushroom “bacon” to an egg sandwich and my homemade spaghetti sauce.”
Mushroom “Bacon” Recipe:
Mushrooms are a low calorie source of fiber, antioxidants, some protein, and have a “meaty” texture. Danny describes these mushrooms as having an umami flavor. The Japanese word ‘umami’ translates to "essence of deliciousness", is the 5th taste (in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter) and describes a depth of savory flavor. Other foods or ingredients considered to have the taste of umami are tomatoes, soy sauce, cheese, and seaweed.
- 8 ounces mushrooms (cremini/button, white or shiitake*), thinly sliced into ¼” slices (if using shiitakes, remove the stem before slicing)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil or another neutral oil
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the sliced mushrooms on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and salt and toss to coat the mushrooms (the mushrooms will release oil and liquid as they cook so if it doesn’t seem like enough oil, don’t worry). Arrange mushrooms in a single layer so they get nice and crispy. You don’t want them to overlap or they will steam instead.
Bake for 15 minutes, then toss the mushrooms and rearrange into a single layer. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes. If the mushrooms are still slightly soft in the middle, that is okay, they will continue to crisp as they cool. You want them to be darker and crispier around the edges, but be patient. If they are not after 25 minutes, toss again and return to the oven for 5–10 more minutes.
Once cooked, allow to cool.
The bacon is crispiest the same day it is baked. Store in a paper lined closed container in the refrigerator. Recrisp in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving.
Maximizing Your Food:
*Shiitake mushroom stems can sometimes be tough and chewy. Remove the stems from the mushroom cap using a knife (they aren’t as easy to pop off like other mushrooms), but save them in your scrap bag for vegetable stock—they add a rich flavor to your stock.
After removing the mushrooms from the baking sheet, if you have bits of mushrooms stuck to the bottom of your pan, you can deglaze, which means adding liquid to a hot pan to release those stuck bits. Add ¼ to ½ cup of stock or water to the sheet and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. You can use this “sauce” to add flavor to another dish like pasta sauce, rice or soup.
Food is often rooted in story. In this monthly blog series, Food Shift, one of our Chef Partners, is amplifying the voices of their culinary training graduates and their community by sharing their stories and adaptable recipes. Stay tuned for more installments.
Danny Portrait Artwork By: Sophia Zaleski
Learn more about Food Shift and their programs to rescue surplus food that would otherwise waste away in landfills and utilize it to fuel their social enterprise kitchen.