Celebrate These Unsung Heroes of Fall Plates

3 of-the-moment ingredients: Mushrooms, squash, and celery

Fall and spring are mushroom seasons and, as Mark mentioned when The Bittman Project first launched, mushrooms are among the secret ingredients he can’t live without.

So naturally, we’re celebrating the arrival of all things mushrooms with a couple of recipes for you — chicken with mushrooms and creamed mushrooms on toast — but for the latter, you can swap out dairy and swap in beans for a thicker, more nutritious dish. We’re also sharing a pasta with squash and tomatoes (for those end of season tomatoes) that’s a Kate Bittman favorite. For our budget recipe, we have a combination of apples, fennel, and celery: three ingredients that are great at the market right now. Pair it with the mushrooms on toast and you’ve got a delightful little meal.

Chicken with Mushrooms

Skin-on, bone-in chicken is more flavorful than skinless boneless numbers, but make this with what you have. I did not dredge the chicken and used oregano rather than parsley for the garnish. There’s room for flexibility here.

Serves: 2 to 4
Time: 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 cup flour

  • 2-4 chicken breasts

  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms of any kind, coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 cup any wine

  • Chopped parsley for garnish


1. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Swirl 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan. Season the chicken with salt.

2. When the butter foam subsides, dredge the chicken in flour, shaking to remove the excess. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

3. Add a pound of fresh mushrooms to the skillet and cook over medium heat, undisturbed, until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates completely. Add 1/2 cup of any wine and let it bubble, stirring until it is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

4. Add another tablespoon of butter and cook until the sauce is thickened; return the chicken to the skillet, turn them in the sauce, and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley.

— Recipe adapted from Kitchen Matrix: More than 700 Simple Recipes and Techniques to Mix and Match for Endless Possibilities


Creamed Mushrooms on Toast

Mashed white beans and a little water take the place of dairy to thicken and enrich sautéed mushrooms. The flavor is more interesting than cream, the texture heartier and the nutrition comparison isn't even close.

Serve as a side dish, or make this a meal by ladling over whole-grain toast or flatbread. It's also good wrapped in whole-wheat tortillas, over brown rice, tossed with whole-wheat pasta, or used to sauce roasted wedges of eggplant, cabbage, or cauliflower.

Serves: 2
Time: 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms, stemmed, if necessary, and sliced

  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

  • Black pepper to taste

  • 2 cups cooked or canned white beans, drained

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried

  • Whole-grain toast, for serving

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


Pasta with Winter Squash and Tomatoes

If we're being truthful, this sweater weather recipe should really be called "winter squash and tomatoes with pasta," as the 2 pounds of squash far outweigh the ½ pound of penne it calls for. I think that's a good thing. Every single piece of pasta gets a generous coating of sauce, and there's even some left over after the pasta is long gone. That's what bread is for.

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes


  • Salt and pepper

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic

  • ¼ cup sliced shallots

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes

  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds peeled, cubed, or shredded butternut or other winter squash, about 5 cups

  • ½ pound cut pasta, like ziti or penne

  • Freshly chopped parsley or parmesan for garnish


Celery Slaw

This week’s budget recipe comes from Kitchen Matrix, a collection that encourages more riffing than most of Mark’s books, which is saying something! I didn’t have a grater on hand so I cut the ingredients in batons (sort of). I chose this one because a lot of farmers markets are rife with varieties of apples, deep green celery, and super fragrant fennel. You can probably drop the ingredients in the skillet and add a little heat so it’s less crunchy and a little more luxurious: Transfer to a bowl and dress it and add herbs before serving.