Making Room for Mushrooms
By Sierra Smith | Styling by Alyssa Otto
As a kid, mushrooms were the one vegetable that my parents wouldn’t make me eat. The color and texture reminded me of rubber, so I dismissed the remarkably versatile fungi. Now, in my adult years, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dish where I don’t add copious amounts of mushrooms. Turns out, they are super delicious and packed with nutrients.
Although mushrooms are technically classified as fungi, due to a lack of leaves, seeds, and roots, the U.S. Department of Agriculture does consider them as vegetables. Surprisingly, mushrooms provide nutrients found in core food groups like produce, meat, and grains. They’re also a great source of niacin, riboflavin, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, and more! Plus, they’re grown sustainably, thriving in mixtures of organic waste like crushed corn cobs, soybean hulls, and cocoa shells.
With thousands of varieties of edible mushrooms growing globally, and tastes ranging from floral to peppery to umami, it’s easy to add flavor to any dish. The most popular varieties of mushrooms — including cremini, white button, and shitaki — are easily found at local grocery stores and farmers markets, and make great additions to Asian and Italian cuisine. Plus, mushrooms with a particularly meaty flavor profile make excellent vegetarian substitutions — we’re looking at you, Portobello!
Mushrooms are currently in season, pairing well with other spring veggies like Swiss chard and onion. My favorite way to combine them all is with a vegetarian stir-fry. Sauté garlic and sliced onions in olive oil over medium heat. Let that simmer for a few minutes, then add in mushrooms, salt, pepper, and basil. When the mushrooms begin to soften, add in thinly sliced chard stems, stirring to combine all ingredients. Afterwards, add in the chopped chard leaves and sauté for another two minutes. Garnish with lemon and basil.
Do you have a favorite mushroom recipe? Share it with us @Edible.Allegheny!