In that cooling season, I also saw local mushroom enthusiasts use the Road to get to their favorite stretch of forest and return to their villages with beautiful baskets full of wild mushrooms.
One man in Rioja, near the monasteries of Suso and Yuso in San Millan de Cogolla, had gone mushroom hunting early in the morning and crossed my path with a basket full of just enough mushrooms to make a lunch of scrambled eggs and mushrooms, which he would likely drink with a red wine from the nearby winery, Bodegas David Moreno.
I liked the fact that he wasn't greedy; he gathered only enough mushrooms for the day's culinary adventures. I imagined that a part of cooking for him was the outdoor exhilaration of gathering his ingredients from the wild as well as from his own kitchen garden.
This recipe is dedicated to his local spirit of the pilgrim's road as well as to American friends who are vegetarians but want to sample the best of Spanish flavors.
Spanish-seasoned vegetarian mushroom wontons
mashed to the consistency of scrambled eggs
(use a fork, potato mashers or clean hands)
5 oz. baby bella mushrooms, finely minced
5 oz. shitake mushrooms, finely minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro parsley
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Spanish picante pimentón
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and ground pepper to taste (keep in mind that
the soy sauce adds salt)
1 package wonton skins
Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon minced chives
A splash of Chinese hot sauce
A Quick Note on Pimentón
Suggested Wine PairingMushrooms are so much a part of the terroir in Rioja, and this recipe inspired by a Riojan mushroom hunter, that I strongly recommend a red Rioja Crianza, the most likely vintage locals would imbibe with their shrooms.
Reserva and Gran Reserva are the next notches up in the aging process. Reserva reds are at least three years old and have been aged for 12 months in an oak barrel. (White reservas must be at least two years old, with six months spent in a barrel.) Gran reserva reds must spend two years aging in an oak barrel and another three years in bottles. (Gran reserva whites must be four years old and spend six months of those four years in an oak barrel.)
For this recipe, the red Crianza has developed enough character and oak to match nicely with the earth-bound mushrooms but hold enough youth to add a nice light zing. Riojan wines in general have a nice earth-mineral taste with their fruit, a nice dance partner for mushrooms, as well as the nutty sesame oil.