The Fairy Ring Mushroom

Although insignificant in size, the fairy ring mushroom (Marasmius oreades) is not wanting in flavor. Their full flavor makes them wonderful in a wide range of dishes: soups, stews, sauces, even cookies. A basic way to cook the fairy ring mushroom (and an excellent way to try them for the first time) is to sauté them in butter for about 5 minutes, add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and simmer for another 10 minutes.

The tough stipes of Marasmius oreades are not good eating. Cut them off with scissors, either in the field as you collect or later at home. After removing the stipes and cleaning off the adhering grass, these mushrooms can be prepared fresh or preserved by drying. Dried and reconstituted Marasmius oreades have the texture and flavor of the fresh mushroom.

Pushing Up Mushrooms discusses picking and identifying Marasmius.

Enjoy these two fairy ring mushroom recipes!

Fairy Ring Mushroom Pasta Sauce

Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water until soft. Drain, reserving liquid. Heat the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan. Add mushrooms and Herbs d'Provence. Cook slowly for 15 minutes. Add reserved soaking liquid and reduce over high heat until about 3/4 of the liquid is gone. Add tomatoes and parsley and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until done but still firm to the bite. The mushroom sauce over the pasta serves 4 as a starter course or side course, 2 as a main course.

Fairy Ring Mushroom Risotto

Soak the mushrooms until soft in hot water. Drain and use the soaking liquid as part of the stock. Sauté the mushrooms slowly in half the butter and olive oil for 10 minutes and set aside. Bring the stock to a simmer while the mushrooms cook. In a heavy 2 ˝ quart sauce pan, sauté the shallots in the remaining butter and olive oil until soft and lightly colored. Add the rice and stir until well coated by the oil. Cook for about 1 minute. Add ˝ cup simmering stock and continuously stir the mixture over medium heat. When the rice dries out add another ˝ cup stock and continue to stir. You will repeat this process until the rice is cooked. This will take about 30 minutes. Risotto cooked too quickly will not cook evenly and risotto cooked too slowly will be gluey. Good risotto is creamy but still firm to the bite (al dente).

About 10 minutes before the risotto is done, add the reserved mushrooms. About 5 minutes before the rice is done, add the Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. If you run out of stock before the rice is done, you may use hot water.

Serve immediately. Serves 4-6 as a side dish, 2-3 as a main course.