Cornmeal Pancakes with Creamy Mushrooms

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Fluffy cornmeal pancakes topped with creamy (but creamless!) mushrooms! Perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner! 

It's my pleasure to introduce you to my absolute favorite cornmeal pancakes. With a lightest, fluffiest interior you can imagine and crispy edges with no hint of greasiness, these guys are about as close to perfection as it gets. Flipping requires a bit of finesse, but please don't hold that against them. We lost a couple good pancakes in the making of this dinner, and although they didn't make the photography cut, they were happily consumed.

To me, sweet pancakes are just OK. My morning cravings lean towards the savory rather than sweet. Actually, as I'm writing this, I realize I make pancakes for dinner much more often than I do for breakfast. Whether they are spicy, stuffed with veggies, or Asian inspired, savory pancakes win in my book. I've been on quite the pancake kick recently, and if I had to pick a winner, these would take the crown.

These creamy mushrooms make the perfect, savory topping. Creamed mushrooms on toast is such a classic brunch dish, so this adaption was an obvious next step. Most recipes for creamed mushrooms call for buckets of heavy cream and hunks of butter. Although saturated fat has been vindicated, I still wouldn't recommend using these ingredients in copious amounts. Especially when there is an almost vegan way to make an equally creamy, buttery and luxurious version.  The trick is using the reserved liquid from rehydrating dried mushrooms and a relatively small amount of butter. The result is a flavorful and super mushroomy sauce.

Mushrooms, being a fungus rather than a vegetable, have truly unique nutrition. Here's a look at the benefits of mushrooms:

Selenium

One cup of mushrooms contains about a third of your daily needs for selenium. Selenium is an important mineral that activates antioxidant and detoxifying compounds. It also helps recycle vitamin C from it's spent to it's active form. Selenium also plays a role in thyroid health, helping to transform the hormone T4 into the more active thyroid hormone, T3. Most of the foods highest in selenium are animal foods, so mushrooms are a great addition for vegetarians, vegans or anyone reducing their intake of animal foods.

Copper

Depending on the variety, mushrooms contain about 40-75% your daily needs for copper, with wild mushrooms having the highest concentrations. Like selenium, copper plays a role in the activation of various antioxidant enzymes. It is also needed for bone and tissue structure and helps the body utilize iron to prevent anemia.

B vitamins

Mushrooms are a rich source of many B vitamins, especially B2, B3 and B6. B vitamins are a group of related vitamins that have diverse roles in our body. They help create new cells, are necessary for healthy metabolism and may affect mood.

Anti-Inflammatory

More and more frequently, chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer are being linked to inflammation. Studies have shown mushrooms reduce inflammation by blocking pro-inflammatory molecules.

Cancer Prevention

Besides their anti-inflammatory benefits, mushrooms seem to also prevent cancer by promoting apoptosis, or death, of cancer cells. This seems to be especially true for hormone dependent cancers like breast and prostate cancer.

Cardiovascular Health

With potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, mushrooms appear to have particular benefits for cardiovascular health. Rat studies suggest regular intake of mushrooms can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

Wild mushrooms have the most potent health benefits, but many of these studies have been done with the homely white button mushroom. I love the flavor and textures of using a variety of wild mushrooms, but just use what you've got! I went with dried portabellos and white buttons since I'm trying to save money, but next time, you know, when I have a thriving private practice running, I'm going to try dried porcinis and fresh shiitakes.

Cornmeal Pancakes with Creamy Mushrooms
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: serves 4
Ingredients
  • [b]Pancakes:[/b]
  • 1 cup stone ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup organic 2% milk yogurt
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • [b]Mushrooms:[/b]
  • 1 cup dried mushrooms
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon organic butter
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Instructions
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add dried mushrooms, turn off heat and cover. Let soak until softened, about 10 minutes. When softened, remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of mushroom liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk cornmeal, spelt flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together yogurt, eggs, and olive oil. Whisk dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and set aside. Allow batter to sit about 15 minutes before cooking.
  3. In a large skillet, warm butter on medium heat until it bubbles. Add flour and whisk in until there are no lumps. Add onions and stir to combine. Cook about 5 minutes until the onions are softened, but not browned. Add olive oil, mushrooms, sherry and thyme. Stir to combine. Season with salt. Slowly pour in reserved mushroom liquid, whisking to combine. Let simmer 10 minutes until creamy and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add pepper and more salt if needed.
  4. While the mushrooms are cooking, spray a large skillet with olive oil (I use a misto). Set heat to medium-high. When hot, add quater-cups full of batter to the skillet, being careful not to overcrowd. I was able to cook about 3 at once. Cook about 3-4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook 2 minutes on the other. The batter won't bubble when it's ready to flip, so you might want to check to make sure it doesn't burn. Be careful when you flip. If they break apart a bit, just patch them back together.
  5. Divide the pancakes between four plates. Spoon the creamy mushrooms over the top and garnish with chopped, fresh parsley if desired.

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