Mushrooms | In Season

Even common mushroom favorites lend texture and woodsy, nutty, umami and sweet flavors to dishes.

By Amy Traverso

Sep 29 2016


Mushrooms | In Season

Photo Credit : istock/ Olha Afanasieva
Mushrooms | In Season
Mushrooms | In Season
Photo Credit : istock/ Olha Afanasieva

The world of mushrooms is so vast and daunting that I want to preface this column by setting some parameters: While the world of edible wild-mushrooms is fascinating and rewarding (gustatorily, not to mention monetarily, if you know what you’re doing), for practicality’s sake, we are limiting our discussion to the varieties most commonly available in your typical supermarket. That means button, portobello, cremini (which are actually immature portobellos), shiitake, oyster, and the like. They may lack the cachet of rare and pricier chanterelles or morels, but you can coax a tremendous amount of flavor out of some of these commoners sautéed in some butter with minced shallots or garlic.

Dip your toes into the world of mycology and you can find yourself diving deep into fascinating factoids. Fungi are the planets great recyclers, decomposing vegetable matter into soil with rabid efficiency. They represent their own kingdom on the evolutionary tree, having split from animals long after the vegetable kingdom branched out, and scientists are studying their antibacterial and antiviral qualities in search of the next generation of Penicillin.

But let’s not stray too far from the food. Edible mushrooms lend texture and woodsy, nutty, umami and even sweet flavors to dishes (try adding candy cap oil to spaghetti sauce, if you can find it). Vegetarians love the meaty portobello as a burger alternative, and button mushrooms serve as an edible container for all kinds of delicious stuffings. Mushrooms are high in fiber and vitamins and fat-free (before cooking).

As a general rule, it’s best to sauté mushrooms on high heat with some butter and salt. This helps them release excess moisture and speeds up the browning process. And it’s that browned, caramelized flavor that really shines in all of the following dishes.

Baked Eggs and Mushrooms in Toast Cups
Ruth Stocks of Atlanta, Georgia, won $1 for this recipe for baked eggs & mushrooms in Yankee’s June 1954 reader recipe contest. Her version called for cooked eggs in a cream sauce; we prefer them baked in toast “shells.” They’re rustic and pretty, a great meatless brunch staple.

Baked Herb Omelet with Feta & Mushrooms
An oven-baked omelet is an easy way to add fresh garden greens and herbs to your summer table. This version of a baked herb omelet combines earthy mushrooms with tangy feta and yogurt

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Butternut-Citrus Soup with Bay Scallops & Mushrooms 
Here, a Butternut Citrus Soup — a rich squash soup — is poured around a small serving of sweet scallops and earthy mushrooms.

Winter-Greens Pie with Mushrooms, Caramelized Shallots & Feta Winter greens such as kale, chard, and spinach (your choice) are packed with fiber and feel-good vitamins, yet taste rich and comforting when paired with mushrooms, sweet caramelized shallots, creamy feta, and toasted walnuts.

Mushrooms with Sour Cream
When we brought this recipe for mushrooms with sour cream to the Yankee holiday party, it was a hit with our guests and the serving dish was scraped clean.

Mushroom, Leek & Potato Soup
This soup extracts big, earthy flavors from just a handful of ingredients and can be served puréed (as originally presented) or chunky.

Beef, Mushroom, and Guinness Pie
This hearty recipe for Beef, Mushroom, and Guinness Pie is sure to become a family favorite that will warm you from the inside out.