If fresh mushrooms aren't available at your local market, dried mushrooms are a viable alternative for the following recipes. To reconstitute dried mushrooms, cover with boiling water and let water cool (about 10 minutes).The mushrooms should be soft. To drain, don't pour them through a sieve; instead, lift out of soaking liquid leaving any grit behind. Then strain soaking liquid to use in soup or in a sauce for the dishes in which the mushrooms are used. Cook reconstituted mushrooms as you would fresh ones.

Soba with Shiitake and Kale

Serves 4 / Made with buckwheat flour, Japanese soba noodles have a distinctive taste that is easily enhanced with just a few drops of soy and some wasabi, or Japanese horseradish.

1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
4 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
1 pound soba noodles
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Remove stems from shiitake mushrooms and cut caps into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside.

2. In a large pot over high heat, bring water and salt to full boil. Add soba noodles, stir once or twice until water returns to boil, then cook undisturbed for 10 minutes or until noodles are cooked al dente.

3. Meanwhile, warm oil, red pepper flakes and garlic in sauté pan over medium-high heat until garlic begins to sizzle. Add mushrooms and kale and cook for 5 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Add 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water and 2 tablespoons soy sauce; cook until liquid has evaporated to a glaze around mushrooms.

4. Drain pasta, transfer to serving dish and toss with mushrooms. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 564 calories Fat: 12g % fat calories: 19% Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrate: 96g Protein: 23g Source: Northwest Essentials Cookbook, by Greg Atkinson (Sasquatch Books, 1999)

Spinach and Maitake Salad with Citrus Dressing

Serves 4 / The cool, crisp spinach and light citrus dressing are a refreshing contrast to the warm, earthy flavor of sautéed maitake mushrooms.

3.5 ounces maitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, washed, trimmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup grapefruit juice

1. Break maitake mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Sauté in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Remove from pan.

2. Place mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes in a large serving bowl; set aside.

3. In small bowl, whisk together grapefruit juice, oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Just before serving, pour over vegetables, tossing gently.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 227 calories Fat: 21g % fat calories: 79% Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrate: 9g Protein: 3g