5, 10, 15: Magnificent Mushroom Recipes for Any Budget
Mushrooms are ridiculously versatile and delicious ingredients that really are a bit of a culinary chameleon. They are meatiness incarnate, and not just in their pleasant chew and substance but in their rich stores of natural glutamates (the source of the ‘meat’ flavor; nutritionally they even mimic meat in their rich stores of minerals and B vitamins and high protein content). Their taste and texture makes them great in the place of meat or alongside it. While they aren’t the cheapest ingredients, there are plenty of ways to use them regardless of your budget. Here are some tips on saving money with mushrooms as well as three great recipes for using mushrooms that showcase their versatility.
Priced by pound, mushrooms aren’t cheap. One of the best ways to save money on mushrooms is to buy them dried, especially the gourmet mushrooms like shiitake or wood ear. Since mushrooms are mostly water anyway, dried mushrooms are like flavor bombs, all concentrated mushroom and none of the dilution. Portabellas are particularly expensive, but smaller baby bellas are generally much cheaper and can take their place in any recipe that doesn’t explicitly call for impressive size. If possible, buy the biggest container you can – mushrooms last a fairly long time in the fridge if kept dry and buy them whole since you pay a premium for cut mushrooms.
Source: Sauces for Steak
$5: Mushrooms in a Supporting Role: A Versatile Mushroom Sauce for Pork and Chicken
This sauce, which relies on fresh and dried shiitake mushrooms, is rich and creamy and the perfect thing to drizzle on top of lean meat or potatoes. It is low in fat and potentially even vegan or gluten free plus it keeps fairly well if you want to make it in large amounts. With the addition of milk, it could even be the basis for a mushroom soup. Think of it like DIY Cream of Mushroom.
Adapted from Rachel Ray and Eating Well
4 oz white mushrooms, thickly sliced.
1 medium to large sized (roughly 2 tbsp) shallot or 1.5 tbsp red onion and 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced.
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tsp olive or grapeseed oil
1 tbsp flour (8g)
For a gluten-free version, use a slurry of rice, corn starch, or arrowroot.
1/2 oz dried shiitake mushroom (roughly 2-3 caps), rehydrated in hot water, pressed to release excess water, and cut into thin slices
¼ tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried parsley
1 cup chicken, beef, or chicken-flavored vegetable stock
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp half-and-half, whole milk, or sour cream/Crema Mexicana (for a vegan version, you could use almond, cashew, or soy milk which you’ve reduced slightly in a pan, though it’ll be thinner and sweeter than a cream-based version)
1. Begin by preparing the mushrooms and shallots. Do not throw away the rehydrating water for the shitakes.
2. Add the oil to a pan on medium heat. Add the shallots and pepper and toss them to coat in oil. Add mushrooms and salt and arrange as though you were browning meat (make sure all the mushrooms are in contact with the pan and don’t crowd). Stir occasionally and allow the mushrooms to release their water and begin to brown. Add the rehydrated shiitakes, reserving their liquid.
3. Add the flour to the pan and stir to coat the remaining mushrooms. Add the dried herbs. Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Add the balsamic vinegar. This will add a depth of flavor to the sauce.
4. When the sauce begins to thicken, taste. Is it meaty? Add the rehydrating liquid to taste – it’s potent stuff so don’t add too much.
5. When the sauce is notably thickened (begins to gloop), remove from the heat. At this point, if you wanted a smooth cream of mushroom consistency you could puree it with a hand blender or (carefully!) in a stand blender. Otherwise it will be chunky and contain pieces of mushroom, which is perfect for putting on meat.
6. With the sauce off the heat, stir in the cream or alternative. If you’re using a lower-fat product, beware of splitting and make sure you stir well.
Makes around 1/2 cup. Per 2 tbsp, contains 70 calories (7.3g carbohydrate, 3.4g fat, 2.3g protein) and 196mg sodium
$10: Mushrooms as the Hidden Star: A Moist and Delicious Turkey Meatloaf
This recipe showcases one of my (and the blogosphere’s) favorites uses of mushrooms: as a provider of bulk, moisture, and rich flavor to lightened-up’dishes. The addition of very well-chopped (I use a food processor) mushrooms to the delicious combination of onions, garlic, and carrots produces a rich ‘base’ that replaces some of the bread crumbs and adds flavor to ground turkey. Quite frankly the chunky, pate-like combination is fantastic in all sorts of applications and worth potentially making extra– it’s great stuffed in chicken breasts or added to ground turkey or lean beef meatballs. It also would be tasty in dumplings. This recipe comes courtesy of my mother’s recipe book but I’ve seen a very similar recipe here.
What you’ll need:
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic (about 1 tbsp), finely chopped
1 tsp oil or butter
1 cup carrot, finely chopped
12 oz mushrooms (ideally baby bellas or crimini, but white mushrooms will work), chopped very finely to a pasty consistency
1 tsp salt, divided in half
¾ tsp black pepper, divided in thirds.
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/16 tsp nutmeg or allspice
3 tbsp plus 1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp plus 2 tbsp smoky salsa such as chipotle
1 tsp sugar, preferably brown or demerara
Alternatively you could use ketchup or a spicy BBQ sauce such as Stubb’s.
1 cup (roughly 4 oz) of bread crumbs, preferably from bread with some flavor such as rye or whole wheat bread.
1/3 cup of milk with fat (nut milks and soy milk would work, rice milk will be too thin)
20 oz ground turkey (the fattier, the better – I’ve used both 85% and 93%)
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Add oil to a skillet and add onion and garlic, cooking on medium heat until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Add the carrot and stir, cooking until the carrot has softened. Add the mushrooms, ½ tsp of salt and 1/3 tsp of pepper. Stir well and spread the mushroom ‘paste’ thoroughly across the pan to maximize contact with the heat. Cook the mushrooms until their liquid evaporates. When this happens, add the Worcestershire, soy sauce, herbs, and 3 tbsp tomato paste, 2 tbsp salsa, and sugar. Mix and then remove from the pan to a bowl. Put it in a cool place or in the fridge. If you’ve made a larger amount than instructed, you can freeze the extra.
3. Pour milk over bread crumbs and allow it to sit for several minutes until the bread crumbs are soft and have absorbed all the liquid. Crack the egg into the breadcrumbs and combine. Add the room temperature mushroom paste and mix well. Add the turkey and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir with spoon to combine, then use your hands to thoroughly commingle all the ingredients until you cannot distinguish between turkey, vegetables, and bread crumbs.
4. Prepare a baking pan with oil and add the mixed turkey, shaping it into a squat loaf like rustic bread. Mix together the remaining tomato paste and salsa and spread it over the top. Bake for a a little less than an hour or until the meatloaf is within the temperature safe zone (165F). Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes in the pan so that it reaches around 170. For the firmest texture, allow to cool in the fridge uncovered for several hours and then cover and refrigerate overnight. When eaten hot from the oven it will likely crumble, but an overnight cooling will help it set up and be more readily sliceable, say, for sandwiches.
5. Eat with choice of condiments or as the filling for a sandwich.
Makes 6-8 servings. 1/8 recipe: 251 calories (19g carbohydrate, 9.4g fat, 24.1g protein)
$15: Mushrooms as the Centerpiece – Vegan Balsamic Mushroom Tacos with Vegan Coleslaw and Sunny Tomato Hummus
Mushrooms often make an appearance, usually in the form of heft sliced or grilled portabellos, as the ‘meat’ of vegetarian and vegan dishes. This recipe combines one of my absolute favorite mushroom flavor combinations with techniques from one of my favorite food writers: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats. As part of his vegan series, he tackles many of the limitations that eating animal product-free imposes. One of his biggest tricks is to reintroduce the lost ‘savory’ flavor by taking advantage of the natural glutamates in soy sauce, mushrooms, and even tomatoes. This dish combines sweet and vinegary balsamic mushrooms with a punchy vinaigrette-style slaw and the incredible flavor of sun-dried tomato hummus in a dish that’s satisfying yet fresh. Adapted from Serious Eats.
What you’ll need:
Corn or small ‘fajita’ wheat tortillas, reheated (I like to reheat mine in a pan or oven until crisp and developing brown spots)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb mushrooms, ideally portabello or cremini, cut into wide, thick pieces
2 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp dried sage
1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook briefly to infuse the oil.
2. Add mushroom pieces, making sure to give plenty of space. You may need to do this in two batches.
3. When the mushrooms release their juices and are nicely browned, add vinegar, soy sauce, and sage and stir well so that the mushrooms are well-stained.
4. Cook until almost all liquid is gone and the mushrooms are caramelized.
For the Slaw:
2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar or 1 tbsp cider vinegar and 1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 cup shredded coleslaw mix or 1 cup shredded red cabbage, 1 cup shredded savoy cabbage, and 1 medium carrot cut in julienne.
1. Mix coleslaw mix or shredded vegetables with salt and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
2. Mix together oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper, and basil until fully combined.
3. Toss salted vegetables with vinaigrette and allow to sit for several hours.
For the hummus (optional: you could use store-bought, makes extra):
15 oz can garbanzos
2 tbsp tahini
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sweet paprika
1/2 oz sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted
¼ tsp garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic, cooked under a broiler until soft, charred, and sweet.
1 large slice (about 2 oz) jarred pickled peppers, roasted or ‘sweet’ (I use Pastene)
1. For the hummus, empty the canned beans and drain off most of the water they come in, reserving a small amount since it’s rich in starch, which makes a creamier hummus. Rehydrate the sundried tomatoes in very hot water until they are soft enough to cut, and slice into small pieces. Slice up the roasted or pickled pepper into small pieces.
2. Puree the beans, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika together until smooth. Add tahini and pickled peppers. Puree again until no chunks of peppers remain. Add the chopped sundried tomatoes and a small amount of the rehydrating liquid and blend briefly. By not over-blending, you ensure that small chunks of the tomato remain in the mixture, adding a little bit of texture.
Makes about 2 cups.
To assemble, spread 1 tbsp hummus on reheated tortilla. Add a small amount of coleslaw and a few slices of mushroom. Don’t be overzealous and stuff too much into one taco.
Serves 2-3. 1 Serving (3 Tacos with 1/3 of the mushrooms and ½ Cup of Slaw): 522 Calories (37.7g Carbohydrate, 23g Fat, 12.8g Protein
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