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Food

We like plants. We’re going to show you how to cook them

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Serve the chilaquiles straight from the pan with extra queso, crema and salsa on the side.
(Ren Fuller / For the Times)

Plants is our new semi-regular column celebrating vegetables and vegetarian and vegan cooking. Recipes featured here will include tricks and techniques to help home cooks make meatless meals as satisfying as can be. We’ll be sharing recipes from chefs and creating our own.

To start, we have chilaquiles from Jocelyn Ramirez, the founder and chef of Todo Verde, a plant-based catering company on the east side of LA. Her dishes are inspired by the traditional recipes passed down in her family, whose roots are in Mexico and South America.

In her take on chilaquiles, Ramirez uses both dried and fresh mushrooms. The intense umami of dried mushrooms gives classic salsa verde surprising depth and heightens the savory earthiness of fresh mushrooms. When seared, the delicate petals of oyster mushrooms develop a satisfying chew to complement the soft saucy mess of salsa-soaked tortilla chips. To top off her double-mushroom chilaquiles, Ramirez makes queso fresco out of tofu and crema from cashews.

I first tasted Ramirez’s chilaquiles at a backyard brunch with food-loving friends, and everyone — herbivores and omnivores alike — went crazy over them. She brought them out in the big skillet she cooked them in for us all to dig into, and we wiped the pan clean. Your friends will do the same.

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Mar Vista farmers market
When dried, fresh shiitake mushrooms (above) intensify in flavor.
(David Karp)

tl;dr

How to make mushroom powder
Dried mushrooms deliver the satisfying umami flavor you get from meat. Using dried mushroom powder as a seasoning for plant-based dishes gives them a delicious savory depth. To make mushroom powder, pulse dried shiitake mushrooms in a spice grinder to a fine powder.


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