Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, it’s impossible to deny the health benefits of the mighty mushroom.
The edible fungi offer far more nutritional benefits than what was once believed. Everything from brain health to healthy skin has been attributed to mushrooms. They are also extremely rich in vitamin B, zinc, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid, and are even a decent source of protein.
Not only are they good for you, but the seemingly endless varieties also offer umami-filled, delicious detours from standard fare. Forget the image of slimy mushrooms on a cheap delivery pizza and reimagine a wholly nutritious superfood with a myriad of textures and flavors that cater to any palate.
Button mushrooms in a salad are fine and dandy, but you can upgrade your mushroom meal by branching out. Try throwing a few fresh shiitakes in your ramen broth, some creminis on a veggie flatbread, a couple of morels into an omelet à la Wolfgang Puck, or go for the classical French recipe from Escoffier for chanterelle soup to wow your family with mighty mushrooms.
Whether foraging in the wild or simply roaming the aisles of a grocery store, there are many varieties of mushrooms available for fungi lovers. Here are some of the more popular.
A subtle note of nuttiness that complements the bite of Parmesan cheese is why the Italians love their porcini mushrooms. They are often found dried because of how large they tend to grow but if found fresh they will offer a more robust palate sensation, filled with umami.
Morels’ earthy and nutty notes have a very distinctive umami finish. As a wild mushroom they are highly sought after, especially in classical French cuisine, and are delectable simply sautéed with butter. But wild harvesters should beware of their poisonous relatives that can appear identical.
Chanterelles have a sweeter note and a peppery finish with a nice, tender mouth feel and can be found in the wild or be store-bought. Their bite complements pasta dishes and pairs well with earthy herbs like tarragon and thyme. They can be mistaken for a poisonous relative that has the same yellow hue, so it’s best to have an expert identify before consuming wild harvests.
Portobellos, one of the most beloved mushroom species, have a very versatile texture that can be substituted for meat when grilled or fried in a pan. The flavor is very subtle with notes of earthiness, smokiness and even a hint of sweetness. They can be seasoned for just about any world cuisine.
Earthy with a touch of smokiness is how most describe the shiitake on their palate. This staple in a wide array of Asian cuisines is also highly adaptable as a meat substitute in all kinds of meals from street tacos to authentic paella. Shiitakes have a delicate yet meaty mouth feel.
These distinctive long, skinny, noodle-like mushrooms have Korean origins. As such, they are commonly found in Asian broths and stir-fry meals. But don’t let these tender, succulent, umami-filled treats miss your plate as a side with a charbroiled steak or even in a pancake as a traditional Korean dish.
Grilled Bruschetta Portobello Mushrooms
- 6 whole portobello mushrooms
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 Roma tomatoes
- 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
- 3 TBSP sea salt
- 3 TBSP coarse ground fresh black pepper
Clean out brown gills on underside of portobellos. Marinate for 2 hours in 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon pepper. Reserve the remaining oil and vinegar for the bruschetta. Chop Roma tomatoes in 1/4-inch cubes, and lightly toss with remaining olive oil, balsamic, garlic, mozzarella, basil, salt and pepper. Remove portobellos from marinade and carefully spoon on the bruschetta mixture. Top each with Parmesan cheese. Grill, bruschetta side up, for 8 minutes with the lid closed until cheese is partially melted and portobellos have seared grill markings.
Porcini Mushroom and Truffle Risotto
- 6 porcini mushrooms, finely sliced
- 1 ounce truffle powder
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 TBSP olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
- 2 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 1/4 cups (4 ounces) Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
- 3 TBSP of white truffle oil (garnish)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add onion and sauté over medium-high heat until translucent. Add rice and stir until rice is lightly toasted, then deglaze by adding wine, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. Using a ladle, add just enough heated stock to barely cover the rice. Stir constantly until stock is absorbed. Repeat this process, adding stock one ladle at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed after each addition, for approximately 15 minutes until rice is tender. Remove risotto from heat and gently fold in butter and truffle powder. Add grated cheese, salt and pepper and stir. Add 1/2 ladle of additional stock to loosen up the risotto and plate immediately. Garnish with shaved Pecorino Romano cheese, drizzle of white truffle oil and parsley.
Vegan Cremini Asada Tacos
- 12 organic, handmade corn or flour tortillas
- 1 lb. of cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 1 TBSP paprika
- 1 TBSP cumin
- 1 TBSP onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
- 1/2 cup cilantro, rough chopped
- 1 lime, cut into small wedges
For pickled red onions:
- 1/2 cup red onions, sliced
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 TBSP sugar
- 1 TBSP kosher salt
Place sliced red onions in a sealable container that barely holds all of the onions. Whisk white vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a bowl. Pour over onions, seal the container, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Marinate creminis by placing them in a bowl, adding chipotle, jalapeño, garlic, paprika, cumin, onion powder, 1 teaspoon of oil, salt and pepper. Gently fold together and refrigerate for one hour. Get a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet searingly hot on stove or grill. Add remaining teaspoon of sunflower oil and mushrooms and quickly sear for 3 to 4 minutes until a little bit of char appears. Remove from heat and squeeze a lime wedge over hot mushrooms. Warm tortillas on a pan for 15 seconds each, spoon approximately 2 tablespoons of mushrooms into each taco and garnish with pickled red onion, avocado cubes, red cabbage, cilantro and a lime wedge squeeze.