While the most common mushroom in American kitchens is the white button mushroom, these staples of many world cuisines come in various forms from shitake to portobello. With a wide variety of flavors, sizes, and culinary uses, mushrooms are easy to add to many dishes.
Although mushrooms grow in the wild, there are many species that are poisonous. It’s best to stick to mushrooms purchased from your local grocer or farmer’s market to be on the safe side, unless you happen to be a mushroom expert! The poison in mushrooms can be fatal, so don’t take any chances.
The Nutrition in Mushrooms
Because there are so many varieties, the nutritional value of a mushroom can change depending on the type. Most types however, offer a wide variety of nutrients, including B Vitamins, potassium, iron, zinc, folate and Vitamin C. They are also a good source of dietary fiber and protein as well. Mushrooms contain a good dose of selenium as well, which makes them great immunity boosters.
New growing methods using ultraviolet lights infuse some mushrooms with a good dose of Vitamin D, which can be hard to get from other food sources. This tends to darken the mushroom’s skin, which might be a help in identifying mushrooms high in Vitamin D.
Mushrooms are low in fat and cholesterol and generally low in calories, making them a great way to fill up without adding a lot of empty calories to a meal.
How to Serve Mushrooms
Mushrooms are used around the world in any number of popular recipes. They can be eaten raw either whole or sliced into a fresh salad. They can also be cooked in a variety of ways, adding an earthy flavor to many dishes.
The type of cuisine can determine the type of mushrooms you would like to use, or vice versa. White button mushrooms are versatile enough to use in just about any dish where mushrooms are called for. Add them to soups, stews, rice pilaf or risotto. Cooked mushrooms make a great topping for a burger or a steak, with or without a sauce. Mushrooms are also a great addition to any gravy, as they go perfectly with both red meat and poultry too.
Cream of mushroom soup is a one of the most popular cream soups on the market, and is used in all kinds of recipes from casseroles to sauces. You can purchase it in cans, or even make your own at home for a fresh, healthy flavor.
Mushrooms are great tossed with pasta no matter what kind of sauce you are using, from tomato based sauces to alfredo, to even pesto. Try different species of mushrooms for variations in flavor. Mushrooms are a favorite topping for pizza – instead of ordering out, top a homemade pie with freshly sliced mushrooms.
Add mushrooms to breakfast by scrambling them with eggs and cheese, or adding them to an omelet. They also work great in other egg-based dishes such as quiche.
At just about every meal, fresh, healthy mushrooms can find a place. The uses for them are nearly endless, as they compliment so many flavors and add their own special taste without overwhelming a dish. At breakfast, lunch, or dinner, mushrooms pack a powerful nutritional punch along with great flavor that is like nothing else.