Every time I move I wonder if I really need to keep my back issues of Gourmet. I own a lot of books. Magazines are maybe even heavier than books? And publicly bemoaning the loss of Gourmet is one of those nostalgic foodie activities that makes me feel sort of self-conscious.

But man…that mag had some RECIPES. In a rut, such as the one I experienced recently that revolved (i.e. continues to revolve) around tofurkey sandwiches, Gourmet makes me excited about foods again. My holiday plans now involve this elaborate mushroom and farro pie that’s encased in puff pastry–doesn’t that sound awesome? And my first post-thanksgiving cooking expedition had me rolling (yes, more) mushrooms in delicate blanched collard leaves and toasting a festival of nuts and seeds in olive oil.

An assortment of the nicest mushrooms you can find ends up super-buttery with the addition of some aromatics, wine, thyme, and a little champagne vinegar (some of which are in the original recipe, some of which I added). The collards, however delicate, still taste like collards, so if you’re looking for something milder you might try cabbage. I’ve never made any such bundles–we weren’t a stuffed cabbage family, and I’ve made the conscious decision to leave dolmas to the professionals–but I found it very soothing to roll up these little fat envelopes, patching them as needed, overlapping the stem seams, folding in the edges like a burrito.

The nutty rice is a straightforward winner. If you don’t do nuts, seeds would be awesome–sesame, pumpkin, sunflower. Maybe even some soynuts. They end up toasty and crunchy and did I mention oily? But oily in the best way, in the way that white basmati rice with butter tasted at other folks’ homes when I was growing up.

Wild Mushroom Bundles with Nutty Brown Rice
adapted from a couple recipes from Gourmet
serves 4, at least

1 bunch of collard greens (you only need 8 leaves, but it’s good to have the extras for emergency patching)
2 T olive oil
3 T finely chopped shallot
1 t kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. wild mushrooms, sliced (I used hen of the woods, oyster, and crimini)
1/2 t dried thyme leaves
1/4 C dry vermouth
1/4 C white wine
1/4 C finely chopped parsley
1 t champagne vinegar

Remove the stems and thick center ribs from the collards. They’ll now be split much of the way down the middle but this is fine. Cook the collard leaves (all of them) in a pot of salted water for 6 minutes. Drain, and lay out the leaves in a single layer on a kitchen towel to dry.

Heat a frypan over medium heat and add the olive oil, shallots, and salt. Saute until the shallots soften a bit, about 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute one minute and add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and their liquids have evaporated. Add the vermouth and white wine and simmer until the liquid is almost gone. Take the frypan off the heat and stir in the parsley and vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 450.

Working on your kitchen towel, lay out a collard leaf. The big ones are easiest to work with. That split down the middle? Overlap the cut edges so that it disappears. Spoon an eighth of the mushroom mixture (about 1/4 C) into the center of the leaf and roll up like a burrito–fold over one edge, fold in the sides, and roll. Place in a greased 8×8 baking dish (any 2 qt. baking dish will do). Repeat with the rest of the bundles.

Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the collards, and sprinkle with any nice big-grained salt you have on hand. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Nutty Brown Rice

4 C water
1.5 C short-grain brown rice
1/2 t kosher salt
1.25 C mixed nuts chopped (I used pecans, almonds, and pepitas)
3 T olive oil

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the rice and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain the rice.

Heat the olive oil in a large frypan (the one you used for the mushrooms works really excellently) and add the nuts. Stir and saute until the nuts are golden, about 4-6 minutes. Dump in the rice, stir it up, and serve. A little chopped parsley on top looks pretty.

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