The other day I decided I wanted to make a variation on one of the first recipes I ever invented for myself.  Several years ago, when I was living in Armenia, I would go almost every day to the street vendor around the corner to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.  In the spring, when the boxes of produce started to be full of things other than apples and potatoes, the first yellow squash started to appear, along with green garlic (which is milder than mature garlic without losing the rich, garlicky flavor).  For the next couple of weeks, I started making variations on the theme of stir fried squash, green garlic, and cheese, throwing in whatever other vegetables happened to look good that day.  Since it’s spring again now (well, technically summer but you’d hardly know it by the weather!), I wanted to revisit this dish and see if I could recreate it.

Because of the cold spring, I haven’t seen any summer squash anywhere yet, so I bought (Mexican) zucchini, since zucchini and yellow summer squash usually have a fairly similar texture and flavor.  I also did manage to find some young garlic which, while it wasn’t quite green garlic, at least it wasn’t sprouting yet.  And then I came across these.

Bunapi shimeji, also known as white beech mushrooms, are a Japanese variety of mushroom that are extraordinarily cute and while raw, rather impressively stinky.  According to the Wiki article linked above, you shouldn’t eat them raw, and I can’t honestly see why anyone would.  Cooked, however, they lose the stink and become quite pleasantly flavored mushrooms.

Japanese white beech mushrooms

Cooking this dish is straightforward–it’s a one pan stir fry, so after chopping all the zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic, I just dropped them in the skillet with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano and fried them up.  After several minutes, I put the cover on and turned down the heat just to get the zucchini a little softer.  Meanwhile I cut up some brie, and once the veggies were done, I tossed them in a bowl with the brie, stirring until it melted.  And that’s it.


Done!

I do have a few modifications that, in retrospect, would have made this dish even better.  First, if your zucchini are really juicy like mine were, scrape out the center section where the seeds are.  If the zucchini are too juicy, they water down all the other flavors.  Second, if your garlic is young and not too strong, just throw it in raw at the end–otherwise you’ll barely taste it.  And third, adding something crunchy such as raw veggies or croutons, or some nice, crispy bacon would really take this dish to the next level–just experiment to see what you like best.  Putting it on toast would also work well.  And now without further ado, the recipe:

Zucchini Mushroom Stir Fry

  • 2 mid-sized zucchini or 1-2 summer squash, quartered and diced (seeds removed if juicy)
  • 1 package white beech mushrooms (or substitute whatever other mushrooms you like)
  • 5-6 cloves of young garlic
  • brie or other soft cheese (as much or as little as you want)
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil
  • dried oregano (to taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
Optional:
  • Toast or crunchy toppings
Dice your zucchini and roughly chop the mushrooms and garlic.  Pour the olive oil in the skillet and put it on the stove on medium heat.  Once it’s warm, add the zucchini, as it will take the longest to cook.  Season with salt, pepper, and oregano.  Once the zucchini just starts to soften, add the mushrooms, and continue to cook for a few more minutes.  Turn down the heat, cover, and let it simmer for another minute, until the zucchini is soft but not mushy.  Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Transfer everything from the skillet to a bowl and add the brie.  Mix well until the brie is melted, and serve immediately with toast, croutons, bacon, or raw veggies.  Enjoy!
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