They’re the food of ancient royalty, the luxurious noshes of the Pharaohs. Mushrooms were held in such high esteem in ancient Egypt, that commoners were forbidden to eat them. In other civilizations throughout the world, many people believed that mushrooms possessed the energy to give super-human powers to those who ate them.
Today, they could be considered “super foods” because of their nutritional value. Mushrooms are one of the highest antioxidant vegetables in the world. The antioxidant L-Ergothioneine is abundant in mushrooms, and enhanced by the presence of vitamin C and selenium. Also, one Portobello mushroom has more potassium than a banana.
There are over 2,500 mushroom varieties that are grown worldwide. Porcini, Portobello, Shiitake, Crimini, Oyster, Button, the celebrated Morel, and of course, the sumptuous truffle, are just a few favorites.
Cooking with mushrooms is incredibly simple, although many people are mystified by cleaning them. The best way to clean mushrooms is to use a soft brush and gently sweep away the dirt. Since mushrooms are very much like a sponge, due to their high water content, it is not a good idea to drench them in water. Then, remove the stem and slice.
Stems can be cleaned and saved for soups, as well the “gills” from Portobello’s.
Mushrooms enhance pasta dishes, risotto, kebabs, burgers, roasts, soups, stuffing, rustic pizzas, appetizers, lending their distinct, warm and woodsy flavors to your recipes.
Can’t get your favorite wild mushroom? Dried mushrooms are the perfect alternative in a pinch. Simply reconstitute the dried mushrooms with boiling water or broth for 5 to 10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Strain off the liquid, but don’t throw it away- it’s full of flavor, and can be used in sauces, soups, dressings, and braising broths.
Mushrooms can be used in almost any preparation, and any time of the year, especially once dried mushrooms are a pantry staple. Using mushrooms will add new flavor profiles to your favorite dishes and add nutritional value as well.