Vegan since 1975, I decide to answer the question, "What DO you eat?" These posts tell about some meals and recipes my family and I have enjoyed over the years.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Wood Ear Mushrooms and Collards served on Whole Wheat Linguine with Free Form Tofu on the Side


Eating organically can cost more, though I like to think the health benefits pay for themselves in the long run. However, there are places to find cheaper products if you look around. In our area there are several businesses that sell overstocks, hurts and out-of-date products. One of them is Ocean State Job Lot. I don't go there often, but the last time I did, I stocked up on organic noodles, semolina and whole wheat in various shapes for $1.25 a pound, considerably less than the buying clubs I belong to even when they are on sale. I also found a variety of fancy dried mushrooms for $2.00 a package. These can be soaked and produce a large quantity for the money. All of these were perfectly fine, and weren't even out of date.

Last night I thought I would try to use the strange looking WOODEAR MUSHROOMS. They were a dark grey curly jumble, and appeared to be cut in long strips, as if they were a type of pasta themselves. Unsure of their taste and texture, I threw caution to the wind and soaked them in water to cover, heating it somewhat and then walking away for about half an hour.

Pasta 
1 package--organic whole wheat linguine
large pot--boiling water
sprinkle--salt


Woodears with Greens
1/2 package--woodear mushrooms (1 package makes a LOT)
warm water to cover (reserve for later)
5 large--collard green leaves
3 chopped--green onions
5 large chopped--garlic cloves
1/4 cup--arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch
1 Tablespoon--olive oil
1 teaspoon each--vegan Worcestershire sauce, toasted sesame oil, hot sauce, balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon each--tamari and sweetener


Tofu
1 package--extra firm tofu, squeezed, if needed
1 Tablespoon--olive oil
1 teaspoon each--turmeric, nutritional yeast, tamari and paprika



I thought it would be amusing to serve them on pasta, and though my family has expressed on several occasions that they dislike whole wheat pasta, I had purchased a few packages of linguine just in case. Just in case I could hide them under a mass of even more disturbing noodle-like product.

Heat a large pot of water to boiling. While that is going on, saute three chopped green onions and five chopped garlic cloves in one tablespoon of olive oil.

Press the Woodear mushrooms with a slotted spoon and add them to the onions and garlic, along with five large leaves of collards which have been sliced into thin strips across their width. Stir this around while the collards collapse.
Mix a quarter cup of arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), a teaspoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce, half a teaspoon of tamari, one teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, one teaspoon of hot sauce, half a teaspoon of sweetener, and one teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into the mushroom soaking water, which should be no more than tepid. Add this to the cooking Woodears and collards, and stir every now and then until thickened a little.

Meanwhile, press the water out of a package of tofu and loosely or otherwise chop it. Mine was breaking up after pressing it, so it became not exactly scrambled, but very free form. Saute it in a tablespoon of olive oil with teaspoons of turmeric, paprika, tamari and nutritional yeast. It will turn a nice yellow color.

When the water is boiling, cook the linguine, drain and serve it topped with the strange dark Woodears and collards, with the tofu on the side.

One son deemed the Woodears rubbery, but others thought of them more as chewy. They were an interesting change of pace, and the flavor was mild. The Woodears did their job in camouflaging the whole wheat pasta, which nobody even mentioned.

Looking up what Woodears (so named for their ear-like appearance as they spring up from dead trees) are good for, besides alarming young children, I discovered they are prized in China for promoting youth and long life, are a rich source of fiber and vitamin D, have three times the iron of an unmentionable product often cited as a good source, two times the calcium of another product everyone is supposed to drink each day, though some of us haven't for decades, are thought to lower cholesterol and help to fight cancer.

One caution though, if you are prone to bleeding: they help prevent blood clotting, and if you eat too many and are prone to it, they can cause internal bleeding. It is doubtful, what with all the chewing and fiber, that you will eat too many in this meal, but once again, it is good to know the different effects food can have on the human body.

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