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A Cook's Guide to Mushrooms

You say you’re a true-blue carnivore? Fine. 

But there are times when you want to slip something a little different onto the grill, something that provides a rich, meaty flavor—without the meat. And if it was good for you, well so much the better.

Meet the mushroom.

Long considered just a sautéed sidekick to burgers and steaks, this Clark Kent of the fungus world is actually a nutritional Superman. Mushrooms are a good low-calorie source of the trace mineral selenium as well as a number of antioxidants.

While several types of mushroom, especially reishi and shiitake, are being researched for their beneficial effects, even the plain old white button variety has shown impressive health-supporting skills.

The button mushroom is the most common type, accounting for 90% of all mushrooms eaten in the US. It has a mild, go-with-anything flavor that makes it the perfect addition to pasta, pizza and salads.

The crimini and portobello are actually two stages of the same mushroom. The young crimini has a deeper flavor than white mushrooms, although not as deep as the fully mature portobello. The portobello’s large size and dense texture makes it the perfect meat substitute, as in the wrap recipe shown here.

The shiitake is another large mushroom. It has a rich, woodsy flavor that only comes out when it is cooked—it’s great stir-fried. The rippling, frond-like maitake, also called “hen of the woods,” features a robust taste that makes it a suitable in both main and side dishes.

When shopping, find mushrooms that are firm and plump with smooth, dry surfaces. Closed gills indicate a more delicate flavor, while exposed gills promise a deeper, richer taste.

Refrigerate mushrooms in the original packaging; once opened, transfer unused mushrooms to a paper bag for cold storage. Clean them with a damp paper towel or rinse them quickly in cold water and pat dry.

MLT Wraps

Want a hearty vegetarian lunch? These mushroom-based wraps fill the bill.

4 large portobello mushrooms, sliced (or 8 oz white button mushrooms, quartered)

2–3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt-free steak seasoning

salt, to taste

4 wraps

2 tsp fresh minced ginger

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 cups fresh baby spinach

2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced 

1. If grilling: Brush mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning and salt. Once grill is hot, cook mushroom strips until deep brown, about 10 minutes. Turn and grill until golden, another 6–8 minutes.
2. If sauteing: Sprinkle mushrooms with seasoning and salt; heat olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a single layer of mushrooms and cook without stirring for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms become red-brown on one side. Flip mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes more, until other side is the same color.
3. Meanwhile, warm wraps on the grill in foil or in a dry skillet. Stir ginger and mayo together and divide among wraps; top with spinach and tomatoes.
4. When mushrooms are done slice them into thinner strips (sprinkle with more seasoning, if desired) and place in wraps.

    Yield: 4 wraps

    Source:  The Mushroom Council and Flatout Wraps

    Download Recipe

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    **These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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