Tuesday, February 7, 2012

0 Mushrooms - vegetable, fruit or ?

Mushrooms are unique in that they are neither a vegetable nor a fruit, technically they are not even a plant, they are a fungi.  I love mushrooms, sauteed in butter & garlic they make the perfect accompaniment to hamburgers, steaks and shrimp. They taste great in salads, soups, gravies and stir frys too.  Most of us are familiar with those white button mushrooms in the grocery store, but there are many different varieties of mushrooms out there and they all have their own characteristics. Check out today's recipe for a Portobello burger, it's so good you won't even realize that you're not eating meat!

Eating mushrooms is very healthy too! Mushrooms contain L-ergothioneine, B vitamins, vitamin D, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc, protein and magnesium, They help the immune system and reduce the risk of cancer. These healthful qualities remain whether they are fresh, cooked, dried or powdered too! Mushrooms are 90% water and only have 18 calories a cupful.

I wouldn't suggest you go out and pick wild mushrooms as there are many poisonous varieties, but I understand that you can buy kits and grow your own mushrooms. I haven't done that yet, but I am interested. If I do it, I'll let you know how it goes. I met a man in Japan that was growing Shiitake mushrooms on a tree log in his backyard, he claimed it was very easy to do. If you grow mushrooms or start growing mushrooms, let me know how it works for you.

Here are some common mushroom varieties:

Button – The white “button” shaped mushrooms that we're all used to seeing in the grocery store. They are delicious in salads, soups, sauces, gravies, sauteed and in stir frys.

Crimini – These are the coffee colored version on the Button mushroom, they're also commonly called “Baby Bellas”. They are in fact baby Portobellos – if left to grow you'll get a regular Portobello mushroom.

Enoki - These slender white mushrooms need only brief cooking and have a very mild taste. They are good in soups & salads.

Maitaki – This Japanese mushroom resembles the fluffed tail feathers of a nesting hen. It's used widely in Japanese cooking.

Oyster – Has a broad, fan or oyster shaped cap, can be between 2 and 10 inches in diameter. They can be white/gray or tan/brown in color. Commonly used in Asian cooking, can be used in soup, sauces, stir frys or stuffed.

Portobello – This is a large coffee colored “Button” mushroom. They have a very beefy flavor and texture and are good sliced and sauteed, or grilled whole. See today's recipe.

Porcini – Has a large brown cap and can reach 14 inches in diameter. They are held in high regard in many cuisines and can be used in soups, pasta or risotto.

Shiitake - Have brown slightly convex caps that range in diameter from 2-4 inches. These are very flavorful mushrooms, you will remember that I used them to make vegetarian Dashi and also put them in my Miso soup (Sept 26, 2011).

Portobello Burgers with Roasted Pepper Paste

2 Tbl olive oil
1/8 c balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
4 large portobello caps
½ tsp coarse salt
½ tsp coarse pepper
4 slices of smoked mozzarella, part-skim (optional)

Combine first four ingredients in a large zip-lock bag. Add mushrooms, shake and let stand for 15 minutes. Broil or grill the mushrooms for 6 minutes on each side. Season with salt & pepper while cooking, add the mozzarella during the last minute of cooking so that it melts on top.

Roaster Pepper Paste
1 (14 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained
1-2 tsp olive oil
handful of fresh parsley leaves
2 lg cloves of garlic
¼ tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it becomes a thick sauce.

Spread the sauce on the top hamburger buns/rolls. Place your mushroom on the bottom bun. Add lettuce (or spinach), onions and tomato, cover with top bun and serve. Serves 4

Nutritional Data (does include mozzarella, but does not include bun, lettuce, tomato or onion)
Calories 212
Total Fat 14 g
     Saturated Fat 4 g
     Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 18 mg
Sodium 1821 mg*
Total Carbohydrates 13 g
     Dietary Fiber 4 g
     Sugars 2 g
Protein 13 g
Vitamin A 18%
Vitamin C 92%
Calcium 28%
Iron 10%

* Most of this sodium is in the marinade, I don't know how much you would actually consume but I would assume it would be much less.

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