My kids and I sometimes stare into our pantry with a hankering for salt. And we crave a considerable crunch to accompany that salt. It seems we are not alone; just look at the popularity of the potato chip. It’s almost iconic.
As potato chips are not particularly healthful, many of you smartly abandoned them for the kale chip. Nice choice. Potato chip alternatives are clearly an enduring trend. (Brad’s Raw Foods grew from scratch to a $10 million company in three years by selling nothing but kale and other vegetable chips.) We fancy our kale chips, too. But recently we have been hooked on a different kind of salty snack: shiitake mushroom crisps.
For those of you who jumped on the kale chip bandwagon, these are a must-try. You’ll experience that potato chip phenomenon where you can’t eat just one; yet thankfully this time, you won’t feel that same guilt when, before you know it, you have a tray that has been licked clean.
My kids will happily snack on these, although they didn’t believe me for a split second when I told them these chips were a healthier version of the Dorito. I guess they have lived with me too long.
Four shiitakes provide two grams of fiber, nearly two grams of protein, lots of iron for healthy blood, B vitamins for energy, and vitamin D for bone strength and many other aspects of good health.
I used to think that mushrooms lacked flavor until I tasted a shiitake. They have a nutty flavor that pairs well with teriyaki, tamari and other Asian flavors, so don’t write them off.
Buy them when they are firm, not moist or wrinkled. Keep them refrigerated in a paper bag for up to a week. If fresh mushrooms dry out, soak them in water for 30 minutes before cooking.
SHIITAKE CRISPS, 4 servings
Make Ahead: The crisps can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week; reheat in a 350-degree oven to crisp them up before serving. Choosing mushrooms of similar size will help the crisps cook more evenly. Save, chop and store the stems in your freezer to use in your next batch of vegetable broth.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Clean and stem the mushrooms, reserving the stems, if desired (see headnote). Cut the caps into thin slices, transferring them to the baking sheet as you work. Drizzle with the oil and toss to coat evenly, then sprinkle with the salt. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until crisped, stirring the mushrooms once or twice as needed.
Let cool before serving or storing.
First published in the Washington Post on Thursday, June 25, 2015.