Do I ever miss meat? Not really, but I’ll admit that I do long for the texture and flavors at times because they remind me of my childhood. My mom used to make pork chops all the time and the smoky smell always transports my right back to those years. She went vegan a month after me and was the first one to look for ways to recreate the dishes we used to love. Oyster mushrooms are such a perfect alternative because a) they’re super healthy and unprocessed, b) they’re easy to find and versatile and c) the texture is remarkably similar. Here’s how you can turn them into your very own cruelty-free mini chops:
Pork chops without pork? Yes, it’s possible! Simply use oyster mushroom stems and the right condiments and you’ll be surprised at how similar the taste is.
2–3 large oyster mushrooms
4tbsp olive oil
2 tsp liquid smoke
2 cups Petite (or “baby”) potatoes
2–3 small garlic bulbs
1 handful fresh rosemary
1/2 handful fresh parsley
Pink sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
10 baby carrots
For the side salad:
2 cups lamb’s lettuce
1 cup small red beet root leaves (or more lamb’s lettuce)
1–2 tbsp pine nuts
5–10 pitted black olives
2 green onions (or 1 shallot)
1 mini orange bell pepper (or 1/2 regular sized pepper)
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 350ºF.
Place the potatoes in a baking pan lined with parchment paper (leave the very small ones whole and cut the bigger ones in half), add the garlic cloves, rosemary, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix everything well and place the pan in the oven for 45 min until golden brown. If the garlic bulbs are small enough, you can also leave them whole.
While the potatoes are in the oven, prepare the side salad. Cut the green onions and bell pepper thinly and mix them with the rest of the salad ingredients. (Optional: toast the pine nuts before adding them). For the dressing, add a little lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
Slice the oyster mushroom stems into chops (about 1/2 inch) and heat them in a pan with 2 tbsp olive oil at medium to high heat for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the chops halfway through and season them with liquid smoke, sea salt and pepper. Once they’re done, remove some of the oil with a paper towel or napkin.
Blanch the baby carrots in boiling water for about 5 min and slice them in half (optional).
Add fresh rosemary to the potatoes when they’re done and sprinkle fresh parsley over the carrots.
Serve and enjoy!