Over the past few years, I have come to adore mushrooms. They are versatile and interesting, and I never get tired of them. Never. How can I when there are so many varieties to choose from? My favorites include; portabella, cremini, (baby portabella) and of course the most common, the white button. I consider the shiitake my “special treat” mushroom.
I eat mushrooms every day. I not only use them in my daily salads, I swap chopped mushrooms for meat in my chilies, tacos, meatless meatballs and meatloafs , wraps, meatless burgers and pizza. I love to grill portabella caps for a delicious “burger” in the summer I stuff and bake them with wonderful grains like rice or quinoa. Mushrooms on whole grain toast is also wonderfully simple and tasty!
Do mushrooms need to be cooked? Yes. I recently have learned that mushrooms should only be eaten cooked because raw mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine. Simply cooking or sautéing mushrooms for a few minutes dissipates the toxic compounds.
I like to sauté my veggies. When you sauté any vegetable it’s the process that draws out the water and flavor. For mushrooms it develops their texture and flavor. It’s simple to do, and you don’t need butter or oil. Doing so only adds extra calories and nasty saturated fat. And who wants that in their diet? Simply heat a bit of vegetable broth or water or water with a bit of balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Add your mushrooms. The trick I use is cooking them slowly until they release all their moisture. Mushrooms have a high moisture content which prevents them from caramelizing easily or quickly. When you add them to the pan, listen for a gentle sizzling the whole time they are cooking. This means that the pan is just hot enough to quickly evaporate the moisture and caramelize the mushrooms. If you don’t hear sizzling, adjust the heat until you do. Use a skillet or a sauté pan with a lot of surface area. When you spread the mushrooms out in a single layer to maximize their contact with the hot pan it allows moisture to evaporate quickly. They will turn a lovely dark reddish-brown. The total cooking time will be about 10 minutes.
Let me know how you start incorporating mushrooms into your meals?