A Meatless Stew for Mushroom Season

Mushrooms add satisfying heft and rich umami to this beef bourguignon-inspired dish.
A Meatless Stew for Mushroom Season
Mushrooms are the main ingredient in this hearty, French-inspired stew. (Lynda Balslev for Tastefood)

Chances are that this vegetarian stew will satisfy any meaty craving. The method for this vegetarian recipe is based on beef bourguignon, the classic French beef and red wine stew—minus the beef. Mushrooms handily step in as the main ingredient.

Not only are mushrooms notorious for their meaty consistency and heft, but they contain glutamate, an amino acid that provides savory, rich umami qualities to food. True, they don’t provide the same amount of protein as meat, but they do have a higher protein content than most vegetables, and they carry a treasure trove of nutrients. Mushrooms are a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, and they are fat- and carbohydrate-free.

Take advantage of mushroom season and choose a variety when available. (Nataly Studio/Shutterstock)
Take advantage of mushroom season and choose a variety when available. (Nataly Studio/Shutterstock)

For this stew, take advantage of the mushroom season and choose a variety when available. Shiitake, portobello, and brown cremini mushrooms are a great starting point. Choose those with firm caps, and store them in open paper bags in the refrigerator to allow them to breathe.

To clean mushrooms, rub with a damp paper towel and use a brush to take away any dirt. You can run them under a trickle of water if needed, but don’t douse or submerge them, because they will act like sponges and absorb the liquid. Trim the ends and thickly slice or halve the shiitake and cremini mushrooms. To clean the portobellos, trim the stems and scoop away the gills. Cut the portobellos into bite-size chunks or thickly slice.

Mushroom Bourguignon

Active time: 1 hour Total time: 1 hour Serves 4 to 5
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms, such as portobellos, shiitakes, creminis, ends trimmed, brushed clean
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 shallots, peeled, thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups full-bodied red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups mushroom or vegetable stock, or more as needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Parsley, for garnishing
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms (in batches if necessary) and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook until they begin to release their juices and brown at the edges, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a bowl.

If the pan is dry, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots and carrots and lightly season with salt and black pepper. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften and the carrots brighten in color, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 30 seconds to coat the ingredients and cook the tomato paste.

Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring up any brown bits, then add the stock and bay leaf. Return the mushrooms to the pan. They should be just covered with liquid; add more stock to cover if not. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue to simmer to slightly reduce and thicken the liquid, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar and the brown sugar and taste for seasoning. Add additional vinegar and salt if desired.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley. The stew can be prepared up to one day in advance of serving. Refrigerate until use, and gently rewarm to serve.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat, and a dog. Balslev studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Copyright 2021 Lynda Balslev. Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication.