Peak Season: Lobster Mushroom

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Photograph by Carin Krasner

Mushrooms have long been the not-so-poor man’s meat substitute. Their spongy texture and intense savory flavor add a richness to vegetarian dishes. In rainy locales come October, certain mushroom varieties host a harmless parasite that turns their skin red and also lends a subtle fishlike taste. “They’re great to use just as you would lobster claws or shrimp in a pasta or risotto,” says Dirk Hermann of the farmers’ market stand LA Fungi, who forages for his lobster mushrooms near the California-Oregon border. “The color really pops. I always put them at the front of my booth because they’re so eye-catching. ”