Tag Archives: soy

Umami-enhanced pasta packs in flavor

If you’ve been out to eat at any trendy restaurant during the past five years or have watched any food competition show, you probably have heard of umami. Umami is the pleasant savory flavor resulting from the interaction of certain amino acids with receptors on the human tongue. (It’s a wonder we don’t get into this level of detail on TV, no?)

Translation: Dishes higher in these specific amino acids taste better to us, balanced and complex, even in low-salt dishes, which is good to know if you are watching sodium. Foods with umami have a meatiness or pleasant earthiness that can feel rich and satisfying. Anchovies, soy sauce, mushrooms, aged cheeses, yeasts and fermented foods all are rich in umami.

This week’s mushroom-miso pasta is a tad indulgent, but tastes far richer, creamier and more sinful than it actually is. Using nutty browned butter underscores the earthy mushroom’s umami flavors. Miso paste, or fermented soybean paste, is the real hero here, though, adding surprising depth to this easy weeknight dish, as well as a buttery, almost creamy taste to the sauce that brings all the flavors together.

Miso paste, available in various strengths in most grocery stores — mild white, medium yellow and stronger red and brown — is a staple in my kitchen, as it brings flavor and richness to dishes without adding fat and calories (but note that it does have salt).

Adding even more umami to this dish is the nutritional yeast. It’s an optional ingredient, but I think well worth seeking out if you aren’t familiar with it. It adds a wonderful aged-cheese-like flavor that turns this simple mushroom-miso pasta dish into a veritable “umami bomb,’” which is a good thing in the food world.

MUSHROOM-MISO PASTA

Start to Finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

8 ounces whole-grain penne pasta

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces chopped mixed mushrooms (portobello, cremini, button, etc.)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon white miso paste

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to taste)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium, heat the butter, allowing it to bubble and cook until it turns nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it, as butter burns easily. Add the mushrooms and garlic, then cook until the mushrooms are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and stir and scrape the pan to deglaze, then simmer for 1 minute to cook off the alcohol.

Whisk in the miso and chicken stock and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the nutritional yeast and mustard, if using, then stir until the sauce is uniform. Season with pepper, then taste and adjust with salt as needed. Remove the skillet from the heat and toss with the hot pasta.

Oregon test: soy engineered for heavy pesticide exposure found in infant formula

The Center for Food Safety says genetic testing confirmed the presence of soy genetically engineered by Monsanto for heavy pesticide exposure in infant formula that is being sold in Portland, Oregon. The organization announced the test results on Food Day 2014 and in advance of a vote in Oregon on whether to label genetically engineered foods.

CFS and Dr. Ray Seidler, the first EPA scientist to study genetically engineered crops and former professor at Oregon State University, worked together on carrying out the testing. With recent published studies confirming that genetically engineered soy has significantly higher levels of chemical herbicides than conventionally grown soy, the test findings raise concerns about increasing infant exposure to chemical herbicides.

The testing follows up on a recent nationwide study by Consumer Reports finding genetically engineered ingredients in more than 80 common food products.

“I think most moms purchasing infant formula have no idea they are feeding their baby a product that has been genetically engineered to survive exposure to high levels of chemical pesticides,” Aurora Paulsen with Center for Food Safety’s Portland office said in a statement. “It’s no surprise that Monsanto is the top donor opposing Measure 92 which would give Oregonians the ability to know what foods have been genetically engineered. The presence of these products in infant formula being sold in Oregon really highlights the need for basic labeling.”

Seidler said, “Everything we know from the recent medical literature suggests we should be doing everything possible to reduce infant exposure to chemicals.  Finding soy in infant formula that has been genetically engineered specifically to survive high levels of chemical pesticide spraying is a real concern and takes us in the wrong direction.”

Genetic tests were conducted on three brands of infant formula bought at the Fred Meyer in Portland. Two products that tested positive for genetically engineered soy included Similac Soy Isomil and Enfamil Prosobee Powder Soy Infant Formula. Both products tested positive for Monsanto’s genetically engineered soy that is engineered to tolerate spraying with the herbicide glyphosate, as well as, Liberty Link soy that has been genetically engineered by Bayer Crop Sciences to tolerate spraying with the herbicide glufosinate.