Make Room for Mushrooms: Recipes That Put the “Fun” in Fungi
When walking in the woods (or pretty much anywhere with grass for that matter), I often find myself stumbling onto a variety of different fungi with absolutely zero clue as to what they are. While some people have spurned the mushroom, making faces as they flick it out of their dish, others have embraced these strange fungi, and implemented new and exciting dishes to the cooking scene with their help.
When it comes to identifying edible ones, there’s not “mushroom” for error (I’ll be sticking to the farmer’s markets personally). However, if you want to be the “champignon” of mushroom knowledge among your friend group, keep reading! I’ll briefly go over some different safe-to-consume species, suggest a recipe for implementing each one, and impress you all with my pun skills…okay, maybe not that last one.
This little guy is considered the most popular cooking aide, with plenty of different ways to prepare them! Available all-year round, they have been used in soups, salads, pastas, meat dishes, and pretty much anything and everything chefs can think up! For this one, I’ve chosen a simple recipe using garlic (I love garlic, to the chagrin of my boyfriend I’m sure) that uses only a handful of ingredients to make a mouth-watering mushroom dish!
While you spend time debating on the spelling and pronunciation of this species, let me tell you about how this low-calorie, meat-replacing substitute can be the savior of any dish. With their size, they have been touted as a replacement for the traditional burger, or even as the base of a (delicious) mini pizza! For a smaller option, you can also get “baby bellas”, the adolescent version of this popular ingredient. Taking advantage of the real estate this variety gives us is a stuffed mushroom recipe that will push the boundaries of anyone’s palette!
These colorfully named mushrooms are known for being high in vitamins, and they are thought to help with a variety of health conditions that ail the U.S. population. To highlight their unique, earthy taste, try baking them with a hint of olive oil and–you guessed it–garlic for a true return to nature.
With a peppery, even slightly fruity flavor, these mushrooms are highly sought after, and sometimes their price tag can reflect that! For an elegant meal, you can try hollowing them out and stuffing them with crab. Not to your taste? There are also a slew of pasta dishes that can showcase this popular fungi and make you “chant” its name!
While they may not be the prettiest of the bunch, morels are actually used on a daily basis by gourmet chefs, and even those who are not a fan of mushrooms can get on board with their distinctly nutty flavor. While there are a plethora of recipes circulating (and I suggest you look around to find one you like), I’ve opted to include our only meat dish here, using chicken as a vessel to compliment the differing tastes and textures. Since not too much is required for the recipe, it won’t break the bank to include this (at times) pricy ingredient.
Not a fan of seafood? Well luckily for you, this mushroom shares only its name with our salty mollusk friends. Linked to improved heart health and anti-inflammatory qualities, oyster mushrooms join the rest in promoting good health among consumers. This chosen recipe is both gluten-free and paleo friendly, and honestly looks extremely appetizing (I may or may not be writing this at dinner time). It can be mixed with rice or just eaten as is, whichever is more to your liking!
Western Giant Puffball
For the final highlighted mushroom, I HAD to include the giant puffball! Other than being known for its’ name, people love the sheer size of this massive being, and many debate over the flavor it possesses. Some argue that it resembles tofu, while the rest declare that it, like the morel, has the same rich nutty flavor at a cheaper price. For a species of this girth, I felt the only acceptable recipe to include was how to make it into a pizza crust! I’ve never been able to witness this mushroom myself, so I envy those that get to experience the awe that comes with holding a puffball!
Alright! Hopefully I’ve caught your attention with at least one of these recipes, and maybe you’ve even found a new favorite to try out! My kitchen may be small, but it sure won’t stop me from giving them a go. I wish you the best of luck in your cooking endeavors, and if you forage for your own ingredients, be safe out there!