Don’t you just love when cleaning out the fridge becomes something spectacular? Me too. Here I was two nights ago, staring at a very clean fridge but a handful of items that needed tending a.s.a.p, when this little plate just kind of came together. Yay for serendipity!
I had the following: asparagus, a handful of sliced carrots and red peppers we had brought with us to Leavenworth but didn’t finish, shitake and crimini mushrooms, half a lemon, and three red potatoes left over from the batch I’d boiled the night before.
I also had, up in my cupboard, a bottle of balsamic glaze. “Glaze” sounds fancy, but it’s really just a balsamic reduction. Trader Joe’s carries it, but if you don’t have a TJs near you, or you don’t feel like running to the store for one thing (and good for you, if that’s the case!), then before you do anything else, make a reduction. This couldn’t be simpler: just put about a half cup of balsamic vinegar in your smallest pan and cook over medium heat until it has reduced by half. You’ll know it’s ready because a) you only have half as much as you started with, and b) it coats the back of the spoon. Taste it. So, so sweet. Almost candy, don’t you think?
So here’s how you go about making your own tray of serendipity: drizzle a little olive oil on a large baking sheet, lay the asparagus out in a row, sprinkle the sliced red peppers and carrots on an empty spot on your baking sheet, slice the boiled potatoes, and make the other vegetables scooch over to make room for them. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, squeeze about half the lemon juice out of the lemon half (if that makes sense), and plop the partially-squeezed lemon on the baking sheet. Just make it all fit somehow. (Baking the lemon will release even more juice, which you can squeeze over everything later. Save a drop for the mushroom sauce.)
Sprinkle with just a little salt but a lot of pepper, then add a dash of garlic granules (like garlic powder but coarser). Bake @400 for about 15-20 minutes, watching toward the end. You want the edges of the red peppers to start to blacken, but you don’t want the asparagus to overcook. So you just have to be the judge of when it has all reached perfection.
While the veggies are roasting, start your sauce.
- about 2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced
- about 2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
- olive oil … several good glugs
- 1 or 2 roma tomatoes (I had one), diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup merlot or other red wine (marsala is good in mushroom dishes)
- 1 TBSP balsamic glaze (or the reduction you made above)
- 1 TBSP lemon juice, which you can steal from the half you just baked
- 1-2 tsp agave (I used honey, but vegans typically choose agave over honey)
- 1 tsp sambal oelech (see picture below)
- salt and pepper
- optional: about a tablespoon of vegan butter (or regular, for you non-vegans)
In a large skillet (I use a cast iron skillet), pour a few glugs of olive oil and let it get hot. Add the mushrooms and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the diced roma tomato and the minced garlic and cook another three or four minutes, stirring frequently. If needed, add a little more olive oil.
Add the red wine and deglaze the pan by scraping up all the delicious bits that are stuck to the bottom. I just flip a metal spatula over and use that.
Continue stirring and let the mixture cook down until the wine is reduced to about half. By this time, your veggies are probably done roasting. Pull them out of the oven and, using a pot holder, squeeze some of the lemon over the mushroom mixture. Add the balsamic glaze, a little agave or honey (to taste … not too much. You just want enough to add a little interest, but you don’t want the sauce to be sweet), and the tsp of sambal oelech. Even if you don’t like “heat,” do add this. Again, it just adds a complexity to the sauce that you’ll miss otherwise. If you don’t have sambal oelech, you could add a dash of Tapatio or Tabasco. It won’t be hot. I promise.
Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Optional: if you are vegan and have vegan butter, turn off the heat and add about a tablespoon to the sauce at the very end. Swirl around until melted. If you are not vegan, you can do this with regular butter. I didn’t have vegan butter in the house when I made this, and we loved it without, but it’s always nice to have that little buttery touch in a sauce like this.
Arrange your veggies on plates, squeeze some of the lemon juice over all, and drizzle with the mushroom sauce. Take a bite. Wish that you had doubled the recipe.
We loved this. Next time, I think I’ll serve the sauce over mashed potatoes.