Mushrooms make tasty, nutritious low-cal side dish

Published 4:35 pm Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mushrooms make tasty, nutritious low-cal side dish

In 3-K every week is a new letter and Mack’s been loving it! “F” for farm was fun and he shared his farmer toys for show and tell.  He’s recognized that “G” also stands for Gigi (that’s me) and GeGoo (DW). For “Q” he took his quarter collection that Mia and Pops gave him, but he was careful to note that two quarters slid out in the car.
For “P” he took a police car but he was intrigued to learn that P could stand for Peggy because he thought G was my letter. This week he’s taking a rope and rodeo pictures for “R.”  But asked what his favorite letter is he’ll tell you it’s “M.”  “M” for Mack or Macker as he sometimes calls himself.
He sees the letter “M” everywhere and he’s figured out that the “W” on their door mat is “M” when you go out and “W” when you go in.  “L” is for love my grandchildren!
So, for today, “M” is for mushroom. There’s much to say about this marvelous fat-free vegetable.  DW and I celebrated our recent 40th wedding anniversary with a steak dinner and an order of mushrooms to share. Mmmm…. I like them.
“V” for versatile.  Mushrooms offer a meat-like, savory flavor to dishes and for the most part they are fairly economical.  They’re nutritious because they are low in calories.
One cup of raw sliced just has about 20 calories plus potassium, selenium, and copper as well as riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid which helps our bodies to release energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates in food. And mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light during harvest can be very good sources of Vitamin D.
“S” is for selective shopping. There are over 2,000 varieties to choose from but choose only those with a firm texture, an even color and tightly closed caps. Be sure to buy the freshest ones you can find for they only last in refrigerator for about one week.  The sooner you can use them the better. To clean fresh mushrooms, brush them off with your finger or gently with a soft bristled pastry brush.  Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel but don’t soak them.
Here’s a mushroom primer, letter by letter.
“A” is for agaricus, the common and least expensive white or button mushroom which has a nice mild taste and can be used in most dishes. Their flavor intensifies when cooked, perfect for grilling or sautéing.
“C” is for chanterelles which are funnel shaped, usually yellow or orange in color and come from the Pacific northwest. The color is a good clue to their aroma which is rather fruity with a mild peppery taste. They’re also good sautéed or roasted and taste wonderful with other herbs.  They also make a less expensive substitute for the pricey morels.
“C” is also for crimini.  This one is a darker version of the white button mushroom with a stronger, rather earthy flavor.  Good raw, roasted or sautéed and so good with garlic, balsamic vinegar and thyme.  This is actually a baby portabella, called just that…baby bellas.
“E” is for the enoki mushroom most often used in Asian soups.  They are long stemmed, white with a slight crunch which also makes them just right in salads, on sandwiches and stir-fries.
“O” is for oyster. And wouldn’t you know they are great with seafood and fish as well as poultry and red meats. They have a nice light flavor and are also delicious sautéed or roasted whole.
“M” is for morel. With its honey-comb shape this one has a very intense woody flavor.  Fresh morels are available in the spring and summer but the dried ones are available all year and are much less expensive. They should be cooked before eating and are good for sautéing, stuffing or as ingredients in richly flavored sauces.
“P” is for portabella. Large, firm, with a more meat like taste and texture, this big one is great grilled.  It can even stand on its on as a meatless “burger.” Also sauté, broil, roast or as a pizza topping.
“S” for shiitake. These too have a good meaty flavor which cooking makes even more flavorful. Sauté, add to stir-fries, soups or pasta dishes.  Come dried too.
“N” is for never.  Never eat mushrooms in the wild.  That could be a deadly mistake.  Even mycologists (mushroom experts) have difficulty distinguishing the safe from the unsafe varieties.
Mack likes them in name only because they start with the letter “M” but he says “N.O.” to eating them. Hopefully one of these days his culinary tastes will expand just as his letter skills have!

Recipe of the Week

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Sautéed Mushrooms
Serve as a side with steak, burgers, or anything! You’ll say “Y-E-S”!

2 teaspoons Canola oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
8 ounces sliced fresh white or baby bellas
Coarse sea salt, cracked black pepper
¼ cup white wine
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 – 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Place oils and butter in medium sized skillet.  Don’t overcrowd the skillet or the mushrooms will steam rather than brown.  Heat over medium high heat.  Sauté mushrooms for a couple of minutes, or until released juices have evaporated.  Lightly season with sea salt and fresh, cracked black pepper.  Add wine and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, add chopped parsley (or about 1 teaspoon dried). Stir gently; continue cooking until the liquid is reduced and almost sticky.  Remove from heat.