Last Sunday, we enjoyed a rare morning with no plans other than a large newspaper and a warm breakfast. While we had stocked up on sausage and bacon a day earlier at the farmer’s market, it was the kale and bags of mushrooms that spoke to us this morning and became what we consider a rather decadent breakfast.
A tartine is basically anything on toast but I think the fancier moniker suits this dish that is a step above traditional breakfast fare. In fact, if it were an hour later, this would make an equally suitable lunch. No matter the time of day, a Mushroom and Kale Tartine is easy to make and deeply satisfying. It also makes quick use of mushrooms that tend to last no longer than two days after market day.
There is some debate on the correct way to wash mushrooms but the most conservative and reliable method is to use a wet paper towel to wipe away any dirt stuck to the mushroom. You could also rinse, if it makes you feel more comfortable, but do it quickly and never soak mushrooms. They are little sponges and will absorb water rapidly, which will make them soggy in the pan.
I was surprised to learn recently that mushrooms are powerful immunity boosters and likely terrific mood boosters, too. Mushrooms are one of the few plant-based sources of B12, as well as a great source of vitamin D and selenium. Raw mushrooms can be difficult to digest so their nutrients are better absorbed after cooking.
Mushrooms, shallots and cream with a touch of sherry infuses the kitchen with a rich, slightly sweet aroma that seems to transport us somewhere more elegant than where we sit. Served over a slice of toasted sourdough bread and topped with a fried egg, we decide this is an easily extravagant way to start the day. Another time, I will serve this mushroom and kale sauce piled over a mound of polenta, or thinned out with some cream over a tangle of pasta.
The newspaper remains pushed aside as we sit back feeling comfortably fed. It seems a luxury to have a moment to contemplate all the options laid out before us to fill up the day…. and pure decadence to to decide we are just fine where we are right now.
- (v) indicates vegan substitute
- (gf) indicates gluten-free substitute
- 3-4 cups assorted mushrooms (cremini, shitake and porcini would be a good blend)
- 2 large handfuls of kale (about 3 cups)
- 1 medium shallot, chopped
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil (v), plus 1 more Tablespoon
- 2 Tablespoons dry sherry, or vermouth or white wine
- ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream (must be cream, not milk.) or coconut cream (v)
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 2-4 slices of toasted bread or 1-2 cups cooked polenta (gf) (v)
- or 1-2 cups cooked pasta (v)
- Fried or poached eggs (optional)
- 2-3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Wash mushrooms by wetting a towel and lightly wiping the mushroom to remove any dirt.
- Slice off stems so that the mushroom sits flat on your cutting board, then slice thickly (or thinly, if you desire. )
- Remove the center stalk from the kale leaves and chop kale into bite-size pieces.
- Melt 2 Tablespoons butter or oil in a large frypan over medium heat.
- Add shallots and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Add sliced mushrooms to the pan with a pinch of salt and stir to coat with butter and shallots. Spread out in the pan so that they do not overlap. Cook over medium heat, occasionally stirring. You should hear ta gentle sizzle in the pan. A fast crackle is too hot, no sound is too low.
- Continue to cook and turn over mushrooms until they start to brown, about 8-10 minutes, depending on how thick you cut your mushrooms.
Mushrooms cook in phases. First, they sweat and release their liquid, the liquid is cooked off and dissipates, then the mushrooms begin to brown.
- When mushrooms are lightly browned, add garlic and stir around for about 30 seconds until it is aromatic.
- Add the additional Tablespoon of butter or oil to the pan and melt, or heat for about a minute.
- Add kale and stir to combine.
- Add the sherry and stir to coat mushrooms and kale. It should create a steam burst when first added. Continue to gently bubble until all of the liquid is absorbed.
- Add the cream and stir to combine. Bubble the creamy mixture over medium heat until cream starts to thicken and kale softens.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, or grated Parmesan cheese.
- Serve spooned over toasted bread. Top with a fried or poached egg, if desired.
To serve over pasta or polenta, you may want to add an extra ¼ cup of cream and/or thin the sauce a bit with the pasta cooking water before mixing with the pasta. Finish with Parmesan cheese.