Sesame Noodles with Asparagus and Mushrooms

14 05 2011

Ontario asparagus at the St. Lawrence farmers' market, Toronto, May 14th, 2011

Spring may have officially started back in March but today marks the ‘real’ beginning of spring for me: at long last, the first local asparagus is at the market!  I’ve been waiting patiently for asparagus season to begin and was not disappointed at the St. Lawrence farmers’ market this morning. I also found local fiddleheads, wild leeks and rhubarb so things are starting to get interesting in the kitchen.

Why not make a delicious and simple Asian-inspired noodle dish to showcase new asparagus? Sesame oil can be found at most supermarkets with the soy sauces. It adds a delicious nutty flavour to dishes and complements the asparagus and mushrooms beautifully (although a little goes a long way so be sure to use a light hand with it!).

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Makes 4 to 6 main course servings


  • 1 lb. (500 g) dry long noodles such as spaghetti or linguine
  • 12 oz. (340 g) asparagus, cut into 1-1/2” pieces – will equal about 2-1/2 cups
  • 4 oz. (113 g) shiitake or button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced 1/2” thick – will equal about 2 cups
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as safflower
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Chopped green onion tops for garnish


  • 4 Tablespoons sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • ¼ cup neutral oil, such as safflower
  • 4 large green onions, white and light green parts only
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  1. To make the sauce: In a bowl or large measuring cup, add all sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Set sauce aside until ready to use.
  2. Prepare noodles according to package directions (spaghetti and linguine are usually cooked for about 9 to 11 minutes in salted boiling water).
  3. While the noodles are cooking, stir fry the vegetables. Heat two tablespoons of neutral oil in a large deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and mushrooms. Stir-fry until the mushrooms have softened and the asparagus is tender-crisp, about 6 minutes.
  4. Drain the noodles and add to the skillet with the vegetables. Pour sauce over the mixture and use a large spoon and fork to toss the mixture until vegetables are evenly distributed and the noodles are coated with sauce.
  5. Garnish the noodles with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions before serving.
Additional Ideas: You can make the dish more substantial by adding cooked meat (sliced grilled steak or chicken would be delicious, as would Chinese bbq pork). You can also add other vegetables such as snow peas, diced red pepper, steamed broccoli or sliced zucchini.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus and Mushrooms

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication. This article first appeared on Suite


Mushroom Crostini

30 09 2009


Mushroom Crostini

Mushroom Crostini

Fall is the time when I think of cooking with mushrooms even though most types are readily available year round.  They have an earthy richness that works well with bold fall flavours such as sage, thyme and rosemary.  They’re also very versatile and make a great alternative to meat for vegetarians and carnivores alike (see my Mushroom Soup recipe for another great mushroom dish).

For the best flavour, use a variety of mixed mushrooms such as portabello, cremini, shiitake, oyster and button mushrooms.  You can even include some re-hydrated dried mushrooms: put them in a bowl, pour boiling water over them and let them soak until tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain and use as you would fresh mushrooms.

These crostini are great for entertaining because you can make the mushroom mixture in advance.  Just re-heat and assemble as your guests arrive and you’ll have an easy and delicious hors d’oeuvre that pairs very nicely with champagne or sparkling wine.  

Mushroom Crostini


Makes approximately 12 crostini

  • 3 cups (about 12 oz/350 grams) mixed mushrooms, such as portobello, button, cremini, shiitake, etc.
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ cup whipping cream (35% M.F.)
  • ½ teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra shaved parmesan for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons sour cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped for garnish
  • ½ baguette, sliced into twelve ¾” thick slices
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add shallots to pan and sauté until they are translucent, approximately 1 minute.
  2. Add mushrooms to pan. Make sure they are evenly distributed and not crowded in the pan. Sauté until browned on one side, approximately 6 minutes. Resist the urge to stir them around.
  3. Once the mushrooms are browned on one side, turn over with a spatula and let them brown on the other side.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add herbs and garlic to the pan and stir until evenly distributed. Add cream and stir to combine. Add truffle oil (if using) and parmesan cheese. Cook mushroom mixture until cheese is melted and it’s beginning to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove mushroom mixture from the heat and stir in sour cream until combined.
  6. Toast baguette slices on both sides. To serve, spoon mushroom mixture onto toasts and garnish with chopped parsley and shaved parmesan.

If making in advance, prepare as directed and then refrigerate.  Re-heat the mushroom mixture in a saucepan on medium heat until warm and assemble crostini. The baguette slices can also be toasted in advance and stored in an air-tight container.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This recipe first appeared on Suite

Mushroom Soup

24 09 2009

Portobello & Crimini

Now that it’s officially fall, I can turn my attention to hearty soups and stews made with autumn-inspired ingredients. I actually developed this soup a few months ago at the request of my friend Dave.  He loves mushrooms and soup so putting the two together seemed like a logical step.  

For this soup, select a variety of mushrooms.  Fresh white button mushrooms, creminis, portabellos, chanterelles and oyster mushrooms are usually available at most supermarkets.  If you happen to find fresh porcini, they are well worth adding to your soup (the Italian mushrooms are very rare in North American stores but I have seen them).  You can also use a few reconstituted dried mushrooms.  Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let them soak for about 30 minutes or until the mushrooms soften.  You can use the soaking water in place of some of the stock – it will add a nice rich mushroom flavour.

I must confess that I don’t really like truffle oil, even though I call for it as an option to finish the soup.  Most truffle oil is synthetic and I find it has an unpleasant fake taste (even the relatively expensive stuff). However, if you enjoy the flavour and want to add a bit, feel free to do so.  A little goes a long way so don’t over do it.   And if you’re lucky enough to have some real truffles, why not shave a bit over the finished soup for a decadent treat?

Note: This soup is very rich – you can always substitute half-and-half or evaporated milk for the cream.

Mushroom Soup


Makes about 8 cups

  • 1-1/2 lbs. (681 g) mixed mushrooms (button, portabello, cremini, shiitake, etc), cleaned and cut into ½” thick slices (should yield about 8 cups of sliced mushrooms)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped 
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme OR 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons dry sherry (optional) 
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups vegetable OR mushroom OR beef broth, preferably low-sodium
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1-1/2 cups cream (35% M.F.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Truffle oil, to garnish (optional)
  1. In an enameled cast iron dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil on medium heat. 
  2. Add half of the mushroom slices (about 4 cups).  Sauté mushrooms until browned and softened, about 7 minutes.  Remove mushrooms from pot and set aside in a bowl. 
  3. Heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in the same pot.  Add the remaining mushrooms, onion, garlic, celery and thyme.   Sauté until vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
  4. Add sherry.  Let mixture simmer for about 2 minutes and then add the flour.  Stir until flour is thoroughly combined with the vegetables and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.   Stir occasionally to ensure the flour doesn’t burn.
  5. Pour in the beef broth and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring to ensure the vegetables don’t stick together.  Remove soup from the heat and carefully purée mixture with a hand blender* until smooth.  (*If you don’t have a hand blender, transfer mixture to a regular blender once it cools a bit and blend until puréed.  If you don’t have a blender, skip this step altogether!)
  6. Return the purée to the stove.  Add milk, cream and reserved mushroom pieces back into the soup.  Let simmer on medium heat for another 10 minutes (do not boil) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. To serve, drizzle with a small amount of truffle oil per serving (if desired), additional freshly ground pepper and a bit of fresh chopped thyme.

Option for an elegant and impressive presentation:

Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls.  Drizzle each serving with truffle oil (if desired).  Roll out thawed puff pastry and cut into rounds that are slightly bigger than your bowls.  Top each bowl with a pastry round and crimp to seal onto the bowl.  Cut two slashes into the top of each pastry to release steam and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and puffed.  Be sure to warn your guests that the soup inside is very hot!

Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup

Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna

11 01 2009

Grey winter days call for classic comfort foods like lasagna


Happy New Year to everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted any new recipes because of the holidays, some traveling and a pesky flu that took me out of commission briefly.  However, I’m full of ideas for 2009 and I will be focusing on interesting uses for local produce, various cooking techniques and a commitment to somewhat healthier and lighter cooking (but there will still be some decadent treats as well!)

Today’s recipe doesn’t exactly fall into the ‘light’ category.  However, it is delicious and despite the numerous steps, quite easy to pull together.  And it can be made in advance so it’s the perfect dish to serve for entertaining – you can assemble it the night before and just pop it into the oven as your guests arrive.  You can serve with a salad and light dessert such as fruit and gelato to cut the richness and create a balanced menu.  It’s the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night!

A note about lasagna noodles:  Using fresh noodles (either store-bought or homemade) makes assembling the dish easy and yields the best result.  However, if you can’t find fresh noodles, you can either use oven-ready dried noodles or regular dried lasagna noodles.  If using regular dried noodles that need to be cooked in advance, boil for only half the recommended time. There is enough moisture in the sauce to finish cooking the noodles and you will avoid overcooked, mushy noodles.

Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sausage and Mushroom Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 10 medium button or cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/2″ thick slices (about 2 cups of sliced mushrooms)
  • 4 mild or sweet Italian sausages, casings removed (see Kitchen Tip of the Week for an efficient method)
  • 28 fl.oz / 796 ml can of good quality canned tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped  oregano OR 1-1/2 teaspoons dried 
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2-1/2 cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste


  • 5 or 6 fresh lasagna noodles (store-bought or homemade – see note about noodles above)
  • 5 oz / 140 g grated or thinly sliced mozzarella (about 1-1/2 cups packed shredded cheese)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


Sausage and Mushroom Sauce:

  1. In a large, deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat.  Add onion and sauté until transparent, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
  2. Add mushroom slices.  Saute for about 8 minutes or until they are beginning to brown.  Remove mushrooms and onion from pan and set aside.
  3. Add the final Tablespoon of olive oil to pan.  Add sausage and turn heat to medium-high.  Break up sausage meat with a spatula and cook until just browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Return mushroom/onion mix to pan and add oregano and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine ingredients.  Add canned tomatoes and break up with a spoon.  
  5. Let sauce simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.  While sauce is simmering, prepare Béchamel Sauce (see below).
  6. After sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, stir tomato paste into sauce until thoroughly incorporated.  Season with sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.  Note: this sauce is delicious on it’s own with penne or rigatoni!

Béchamel Sauce:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat butter on medium heat until just melted.  Whisk in flour, making sure it is fully incorporated into the butter.  Cook flour/butter mixture for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly.  
  2. Add 1/2 cup milk, whisking briskly as you pour it.  Mix well into the flour and butter, ensuring it makes a smooth sauce with no lumps. Continue to add the rest of the milk slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly.
  3. Cook sauce for about 5 to 7 minutes or until it begins to thicken.  Do not let the milk boil or burn.  Add nutmeg and season with salt to taste.

Assembling the lasagna:

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  2. In a 9″ X 12″ X 3″ deep (approximately) baking dish, spread a scoopful of sausage sauce so it covers the bottom of pan in a thin layer (about 1 cup of sauce).   Spoon about 1/2 to 3/4 cup béchamel sauce over sausage mix.   Cover sauces with a single layer of fresh noodles, cut to fit as necessary (it may require cutting up a couple of noodles to fit along the edges properly).  
  3. Repeat layering: sausage mix/béchamel/noodles, sausage mix/béchamel/noodles, sausage mix/béchamel. Do not top with a final layer of noodles. 
  4. If baking immediately*, sprinkle top layer with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, making sure they are evenly distributed.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and browned.  If lasagna has been refrigerated, it may take a little bit longer to brown so adjust baking time accordingly.
  5. Serve with a green salad and a nice Italian red wine.

*Note for making lasagna in advance: if you are making it to bake at a later time, do not add cheese until just before cooking or it will dry out.  Cover with saran and refrigerate until ready to bake. 

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!


Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna with a green salad

Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup

26 10 2008

Now that the weather is getting cool, soups are a great way to keep warm.  Barley is grown all around the world and it’s the fourth largest grain crop after corn, rice and wheat.  It is abundant in North America and a major source of animal feed.  However, the best known use of barley is in beer production.  Barley is readily available at most grocery stores, either in small bags or in bulk and is an economical way to add body to a soup. I prefer pearl barley, which should be clearly labelled on the package. If you can’t locate barley, you can substitute long grain rice.

This recipe can easily be adapted to become vegetarian: use vegetable stock, eliminate the beef, add an extra 1/4 cup of raw barley and some extra mushrooms.

Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup

Makes approximately 8 cups

(Can be adapted to be VEGETARIAN)

  • 12 to 14 oz. (340 – 397 g) beef, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil OR neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • 2 cups thickly sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) low-sodium beef stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large stockpot or enameled cast iron pot, heat oil on medium high heat.  Add beef cubes and sauté until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes.  Remove beef from pot and set aside.
  2. Add mushrooms, carrot, onion and celery to pot.  Sauté until all vegetables are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and thyme.  Cook another 30 seconds and add Worchestershire sauce and tomato paste.  Stir until combined.  Return beef to pot.
  4. Add stock.  Bring to a simmer and add barley.  Cover pot and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup

Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Crostini

25 09 2008

For a great fall hors d’oeuvre, check out my most recent article for Suite 101:

Mushroom Toasts

Mushroom Crostini

Bon Appetit and Enjoy!