Once known as the ‘food of the gods’, wild mushrooms have been enjoyed around the world for thousands of years. However, not all of us wish to experiment with the wild varieties found in the countryside. It’s easier to have fun with the commercially grown varieties available from supermarkets and greengrocers.
Mushrooms are the ‘meat’ of the vegetable world. They are more closely related in DNA to humans than to plants. Just as with human skin, mushrooms can produce vitamin D by being exposed to sunlight.
Mushrooms flourish in the dark or the light as their energy comes from the growing medium not from photosynthesis as with green plants.
Although mushrooms are made up of around 90 per cent water they are still very nutritious. A single portabello mushroom can contain more potassium than a banana. They are good sources of B vitamins along with essential minerals such as copper, selenium and potassium. They are low in fat, carbs and salt.
To use cultivated mushrooms, just wipe the caps and stalks with a paper towel or soft mushroom brush. Do not wash or their flavour will diminish.
To store, refrigerate mushrooms in a paper bag to absorb any moisture and prevent them from becoming slimy.
MUSHROOM & WALNUT STUFFED CAPSICUMS
Serve as a light meal or as a main with extra vegetables.
2 small capsicums, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 tablespoon canola oil
200g Swiss brown mushrooms, diced
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 sundried tomatoes, drained and diced
25g walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
dash chilli sauce
Place the capsicums in a shallow microwave dish and cook on high for 1-2 minutes or until softened a little.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Sauté the mushrooms on high for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season. Add the remaining ingredients.
Fill the capsicums with the mixture and place in an oven-proof dish. Cover the capsicums loosely with foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until tender.
Great served topped with light sour cream. Serves 2.
MUSHROOM CONSOMME WITH TORTELLINI
Great served as a starter to dinner or as a light meal served with crusty bread and cheese.
4 large shallots, diced
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 cups good chicken stock
bunch fresh herbs, tied together
300g chicken tortellini or similar
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Sauté the shallots in the oil, until softened. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the stock and herbs and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.
Meanwhile, cook the tortellini according to the packet instructions. Lift out with a slotted spoon and add to the soup. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove the bunch of herbs and add the chopped parsley. Serves 4-6.
GARLIC & MUSHROOM BRUSCHETTA
A super easy snack.
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced
4 small shallots, sliced
4 portabello mushrooms, stems removed
2 large thick slices ciabatta or similar
extra olive oil
1 cup baby spinach leaves
3-4 tablespoons balsamic dressing
Heat the oil on low in a heavy frying pan. Sauté 4 cloves of garlic and the shallots for 2 minutes. Add the whole mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile, toast the bread. Brush one side of each slice with oil and rub with the remaining (cut) clove of garlic.
Serve the garlic and shallots on the bread. Top with the mushrooms and the spinach tossed in the balsamic dressing. Serves 2 as a snack.