Mediterranean Marinated Mushrooms

Makes 12

Vegan; no gluten, grain, dairy, soy or cane sugar.

Serve these as finger food; as a side dish to BBQs, rice or pasta; or like a pickle or relish accompaniment to plain fish, tofu, legumes, meat, egg dishes or anything that would benefit from flavourful zing.

Mushrooms are grown in compost, not soil. They are a good source of selenium, a mineral low in New Zealand soils. A deficiency is linked with the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Mushrooms are a member of the fungi family. They are good sources of protein, soluble fibre, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, copper, B2, B3 and B5. Low in fat, calories, starch and GI rating.

Mushrooms have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline are all produced from fungal extracts. The alpha and beta glucan polysaccharides, sulphur and antioxidant content are being studied as treatments for immune system problems such as Candida and herpes, as well as inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

High estrogen levels are involved with endometriosis; fibroids; many prostate, menstrual and menopausal problems; and hormone dependent cancers such as breast, cervical and prostate. Even with treatment, cancer reoccurrence averages 20-30%.  Aromatase is an enzyme in fat cells that stimulates estrogen levels. Mushrooms – and especially the humble button type – help lower aromatase. Their phytochemicals additionally inhibit cancer cell activity and tumour growth.

However, no one food suits everyone. Some people are intolerant to foods from the yeast family. These include mushrooms, yeast-risen bread, vinegar, alcohol, cheese and yoghurt. Contact this office for an allergy test to determine any sensitivities.

Keep mushrooms refrigerated and use promptly. When mushrooms discolour this relates to a drop in nutrient value.

12 button mushrooms
2 Tbsp harissa*
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard (eg Crystal brand; most have sugar)
1½ tsp sea salt with kelp*
1 tsp basil

Wipe mushrooms with a clean cloth – do not expose to water (or they become soggy). Slice in half.

In a cast iron fry pan, toast cumin seeds over low-medium heat about 2 minutes until darkened and fragrant. Stir and watch carefully to prevent burning.

In a bowl or storage jar, combine the harissa, oil, vinegar, seeds, mustard, kelp and salt. Stir in mushrooms. Cover and chill 30-60 minutes to let flavours mingle and penetrate the mushrooms. These can be stored in the fridge for days if desired. After about 3 hours the mushrooms will exude a lot of their high water content. They become much smaller, but still tasty and attractive. Use the extra juices in sauces, dressings, and rice, pasta or fish dishes.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Harissa: North African and Middle Eastern spicy, red seasoning paste. Usually made from red pepper, chilli, vinegar, spices, salt and olive oil. In jars in supermarket seasoning or gourmet section.

• Olive Oil: extra virgin olive oil is achieved by using cold mechanical pressure rather than the high heat and chemical solvents typical to most supermarket oils. These practices damage oils and the people who eat them. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my TIPS article: The Fats of Life.

• Sea salt: is sea water dehydrated by sun. When mixed with seaweed or kelp (containing iodine and other minerals low in our soil) it is ideal in terms of flavour (interesting but not too strong) and mineral balance. Try Pacific Harvest or Malcolm Harker brands; both in health and gourmet stores. NOTE these are less salty in taste than other brands. Ordinary salt is taken from mines or sea and so highly refined over extreme heat that it contains nothing but sodium chloride. All other minerals are stripped away, such as potassium and magnesium which help regulate fluid balance and blood pressure. Bleach as a whitener and chemicals to prevent clumping may be added to table salt.



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