Food of the Week: Mushrooms

For some people, mushrooms inspire devotion. For others, they provoke disgust. If you are among the latter group, you can still try some of the recipes here—the penne casserole, the consommé, and the mushroom puffs—with the mushrooms omitted, perhaps with a substitution of another ingredient. If you are like me and love mushrooms, I hope you enjoy these recipes in all their fungi glory.

Different types of mushrooms of course have different nutritional value, and it’s beyond the scope of this column to provide even an overview of the types of mushrooms and what they offer. In general, though, mushrooms are low in calories and a good source of B vitamins and several minerals. Sliced white button mushrooms, for instance, have only 15 calories per cup and are a good source of copper, selenium, riboflavin, and niacin. Many mushrooms seem to have anti-cancer properties and can improve immune system functioning, and some mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D.

In terms of adding mushrooms to categories of food, they go well with so many things that it’s almost easier to list what you wouldn’t add them to. But some of my favorite dishes to include mushrooms in are quesadillas, stir fries, pizzas, soups, and sandwiches.

Roasted and Stuffed Portobellos

4 large portobello mushroom caps
Cooking spray
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ lb. smoked trout or other smoked fish
1 c. diced sundried tomatoes

Preheat oven to 450°. Spray cooking oil on a baking tray and place the mushrooms on the tray. Spray the mushrooms on both sides until lightly coated. Bake for 5 minutes, turn the mushrooms over, and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir in the smoked fish and sundried tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into the cooked mushroom caps and serve.

Portobello Penne Casserole

This has long been a favorite recipe of mine.

1 8-oz. package penne pasta, preferably whole wheat
2 T. canola or vegetable oil
½ lb. mushrooms (portobello or other), thinly sliced
½ c. butter
¼ c. flour
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ t. dried basil
2 c. milk
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1 10-oz. packaged frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
¼ c. soy sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. Cook the penne to al dente and drain.
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms, cook 1 minute, and set aside. Melt butter in the pan and mix in flour, garlic and basil. Gradually mix in milk until thickened. Stir in 1 c. cheese until melted. Remove pan from heat and mix in pasta, mushrooms, spinach, and soy sauce.
3. Transfer to the baking dish, and top with remaining cheese. Bake 20 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Shiitake, Daikon, and Cabbage Consommé

This recipe is from a Delicious Living column about detox foods, but as author Christina Pirello notes, it’s also a nice way to start any meal. Daikon (a type of radish) and dried shiitake mushrooms are available at Duluth’s Whole Foods Co-op.

4 c. water
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ c. daikon, thinly sliced
4-6 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced
½ c. green cabbage, finely shredded
Zest of 1 lemon
Soy sauce to taste
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

In a medium pot, bring the water and onion to a boil. Add the daikon, mushrooms, cabbage, and lemon zest. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 7 minutes. Season lightly with soy sauce and simmer an additional 3-4 minutes. Garnish servings with parsley.

Crusty Mushroom Bake

This can be served atop pieces of french bread as an appetizer or snack, or on its own as a side dish. I ate the last of my batch with scrambled eggs.

2 T. butter
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ lbs. mixed mushrooms (shiitake, chanterelle, morel, portobello, white button), cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped
¼ t. dried thyme
¼ c. half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste
½ c. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a medium-sized casserole dish. Melt the butter in a small skillet and cook the green onions until softened, adding the garlic near the end of the cooking time. Layer half of the mushrooms in the casserole dish and sprinkle half the onions, garlic, parsley, and thyme on top. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, onion, garlic, and herbs.
Pour the half-and-half over the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Baste the mushrooms with the half-and-half, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake until crusty, about 15 more minutes.

Note: The original recipe I modify here called for ½ c. half-and-half as well as ¼ c. dry white wine. When I made it, I omitted the wine, but I found there was still too much liquid in the bottom of the dish when it was done baking, so I think reducing the amount of half-and-half would produce a better result. It may also work to use an eighth cup each of half-and-half and wine.

Mushroom Puffs

Not the healthiest, but cute and tasty. Avoid crescent roll dough made with hydrogenated oil.

4 oz. cream cheese
1 4-oz. can mushroom pieces, drained
1 T. chopped onion
1/8 t. hot pepper sauce (opt.)
1 8-oz. tube crescent roll dough

Preheat oven to 425°. In a blender or food processor, combine the cream cheese, mushrooms, onion, and hot pepper sauce. Unroll the dough and separate into four rectangles, pressing the perforations to seal. Spread the mushroom mixture over the dough and roll up starting with a long side. Cut each roll into five slices. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.