Edible mushroom varieties range from the delicate enoki to the thick and hearty Portobello. Their culinary uses are endless, adding flavor and dimension to vegetable and meat dishes alike. And, after thousands of years in Asian medicine, the nutritional benefits of mushrooms are also taking hold in the West. Mushrooms are, indeed, a boon for our table and our health!
Most mushrooms are good sources of three B-complex vitamins—riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. They also contain hearty-healthy potassium and are a vegetable source of the antioxidant selenium. Touted for their immune-boosting properties in Asian medicine, certain mushrooms are now being studied by Western doctors. And, for the carb-conscious, they contain protein and all the essential amino acids, no fat or sodium, are a good source of fiber, and contain less than 10 grams of carbohydrates per serving!
To clean, simply brush off any dirt with a soft brush or damp paper towel. If you must wash, rinse only very briefly and dry quickly on a paper towel. Refrigerate uncleaned fresh mushrooms in a paper bag or their original container (never air-tight plastic); Use them soon after purchase so they remain firm and blemish free.
HOT AND SOUR MUSHROOM SOUP Serves 2 to 4
4 cups vegetable or fish stock
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 stalks lemon grass, cut in half and split down the middle
1 tbsp minced ginger
cup enoki mushrooms (if unavailable use sliced oyster or button mushrooms)
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 or 3 small red chilis, roughly chopped
3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Heat the stock in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, lemon grass and ginger and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add all the other ingredients except the cilantro and simmer for about 15 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Garnish with cilantro.
GRILLED PORTOBELLO AND GOAT CHEESE SANDWICH
Generously brush 2 portobello caps with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the mushrooms until tender, approximately 7 to 9 minutes, depending on size. Spread goat cheese on two slices of peasant or ciabatta bread and lightly toast. Place portobellos on top toast and layer with roasted red pepper, sliced artichoke hearts and mixed greens. Drizzle with more olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if desired.
SAUTÉED FRESH MUSHROOMS Serves 4
Aromatic and flavorful, tossed with asparagus into pasta, as an omelette filling or as a simple elegant side dish.
1 lb. assorted fresh mushrooms, such as chanterelles, shiitakes, and creminis
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
cup minced shallots
cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Clean the mushrooms by brushing off any excess dirt. Trim the stems. Cut larger mushrooms into 1-2 inch pieces. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over high heat. Add shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 15-20 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are well browned and tender. Toss with parsley, season with salt and pepper.
Susan Bellinson is the Marketing Director for Whole Foods Market in Michigan. Visit Whole Foods Market locations in Rochester Hills, Troy, West Bloomfield and Ann Arbor. More recipes at www.wholefoodsmarket.com.