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Cook those mushrooms properly, and use the oven to help

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As delicious as mushrooms are, they can be a divisive vegetable with many diners. For every person who loves their earthy savoriness, there is another who thinks of the flavorful fungi as rubbery and slimy.

That squeaky, slippery texture many of us associate with mushrooms happens when they are mishandled during the cooking process, usually in a skillet that’s too small, placed over heat that is too low. As the mushrooms cook, they release their liquid and, without enough room in the pan or enough heat, that liquid simmers in the skillet, boiling the mushrooms instead of browning them. Not good.

My favorite method of cooking mushrooms makes it easy to avoid that unpleasant scenario by roasting them in the oven.

Roasted mushrooms have a meaty texture and a deep flavor, and, best of all, they are easy to make. Just toss them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, arrange them on a large baking sheet and pop them in the oven. While the mushrooms still release their liquid in the process, there should be enough room on the sheet pan to allow that liquid to evaporate and the mushrooms to brown.

An exception is this week’s recipe of Creamy Roasted Mushroom Penne.

In this case, I pull the mushrooms out of the oven and drain the liquid off to boost the mushroom flavor in the sauce. Then they are placed back in the oven to finish browning.

I cut my mushrooms in half before I roast them, as opposed to cutting them into slices. Sliced mushrooms are easier to overcook in the oven, creating a tougher texture. For this recipe, I roast the halved mushrooms, then roughly chop them before adding them to the pasta sauce.

The result is an intensely flavored pasta dish, that may turn the mushroom haters at your dinner table into fans.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredithdeeds@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.

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