Edible cultivated mushrooms are a vegan gourmet’s delight. They are versatile and abundant in nutritional value while being very low in calories, virtually fat free, and contain no gluten. They provide low sodium, high vitamin D content, and add tremendous flavor and texture to just about any meal. Many consider certain varieties of fungi to have medicinal qualities and can be anti-cancer as well as a boost to the immune system.
There are numerous varieties to choose from according to one’s taste and preference. Each type has a different color, flavor, and texture. Enoki with their button-like shaped caps and long stems are popular in Japanese cooking and add an exotic quality to miso soup. Shitakes should be cooked in stir-fries to bring out their woodsy flavor. I prefer baby bella and crimini varieties raw in salads, but also when cooked they add an earthy quality to sautéed dishes. Portabella grow as large as 6” in diameter and are good when marinated and grilled for sandwiches. They impart a meaty texture, good fiber, and are a special taste treat on the barbecue.
The following recipe features the most common and delicious white button mushroom, which accounts for 90% of American taste preferences. I believe they are most popular because of their familiarity and availability. They are perfect for stuffing and baking as well as freshly sliced in salads. Mushrooms are also excellent choice for seitan stews and in Italian dishes with tomato sauces. Select the whitest caps with as little brown spots as possible for freshness. Store them unwashed in a paper bag in the refrigerator. When ready to prepare, wash them in cool water and then pat any excess water dry with a paper towel.
It is interesting to note that a certain type of mushroom called “AMADOU”is useful in that it can also be harvested and used to create fabulous household items like hats and placemats. It can be made into a vegan suede-like fabric with a soft velvet touch. We bought a sample of these as souvenirs in Budapest and one is featured in my photo with the recipe. The versatility and variety of the fungi family is amazing and deserves to be explored. The rewards are abundant and are worthy of our attention.
SAVORY STUFFED MUSHROOMS
1/2 lb. large white mushrooms (about 12)
1/2 med. onion
1/3 c. green pepper
1 stalk celery
12 fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup bread crumbs (reg. or Italian flavor)
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. grated vegan parmesan cheese –
(Note: “Go Veggie”brand made from soy and rice is good)
Black pepper to taste
Prepare the mushrooms by rinsing and drying. Cut a tiny portion of the stem end to discard. Break off the rest of the stems and cut into small, fine dices. Combine the onion, pepper, celery, basil, and garlic and sautéin olive oil for about 5 minutes stirring until the onion is translucent. Add the bread crumbs and mix, the add the water, stirring to make a soft mixture leaving some texture to the mix. Using a teaspoon stuff each of the mushroom caps generously. Any leftover stuffing can be placed in 1/2 of a washed and seeded red or green pepper. Place in an oven-proof dish with a tiny amount of spray olive oil on the bottom. Sprinkle with dried parsley flakes and more vegan parmesan cheese if desired (note: It does contain a high sodium count). Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees until the mushrooms are slightly wrinkled and some liquid is noticeable in the bottom of the pan. Serve as an appetizer or a side dish.
Always a delightful treat!