Pairing: Chardonnay



Shiitake Mushrooms with a Spicy Walnut and Spinach Sauté


Fall pears and shiitake mushrooms are plentiful in Oregon, as well as home grown local spinach. I like to serve this with roasted chicken. I actually keep my old “Roman clay pot” just for roasting a good organic chicken.

Serves 4

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T minced shallots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, halves or thirds (can substitute other fresh wild mushrooms)
  • 6 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed, torn in large pieces
  • 1 T minced crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 c pear brandy, Clear Creek from Oregon if it is available.
  • 2/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 ts. Dijon mustard
  • 2 fresh pears, or 1 fresh and 1/4 cup dried, the latter soaked in the brandy, slightly warm
  • 1 lime or lemon to preserve pears as they are cut Spicy walnuts, (optional). See below.
  1. Melt 1 T butter in a heavy pan. Add shallots and sauté about five minutes, until softened. Add remaining 2 T butter and add mushrooms and minced garlic. Sauté about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove this mixture to a separate dish.
  2. Heat pan to medium; add spinach leaves to the pan, and wilt briefly (about a minute) with just the water that is clinging to them from washing, and in remaining butter in the pan. Drain in colander, and transfer to a warm serving platter, spreading out to form the base of the dish.
  3. If you are using the dried pears, chop roughly. At this point, warm the brandy in the microwave and let the pears infuse for a while. Remove pears from brandy before continuing, and set aside.
  4. Combine the ginger, brandy, mustard and cream in the same skillet. Reduce to about 1/3 of the volume, thickening to a nice sauce (about 5 minutes).
  5. Quarter the fresh pears and core, reserving them in the juice of one lime or lemon until you are ready to add them to the dish.
  6. Assemble the dish by piling mushroom mixture across the spinach bed, and then adding the pears. Drizzle sauce across the top. Add a scant 1/3 cup spicy walnuts as a final accent, chopped fairly small, if you choose to give them a try!


The great thing about these is that they can be added to many dishes, and frozen ahead of time for tasty additions to pizza with caramelized onions, for example, or to salads.

  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c plain yogurt
  • 3/4 ts. Salt
  • 3/4 ts. Cayenne pepper
  • l and 1/2 c walnut halves

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of foil on a baking pan, and spray foil with nonstick vegetable oil. Mix sugar, yogurt, salt and cayenne. Micro two minutes. Stir in the nuts, and transfer to the baking sheet. Spread out in an even layer. Bake 20 – 25 minutes. Stir frequently, and watch carefully. They can burn if left unattended. You want the yogurt mix to coat and adhere, but pull them out if they begin to turn black. Cool and then freeze if not using within several days.

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