Mushrooms Add Rich Flavor Along With Health Benefits to Meals

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While there are many varieties of edible mushrooms, 90% consumed in the U.S. are white button mushrooms. They’re readily available and have a mild flavor. A more mature version of the white button mushroom, the crimini or baby bella has a deeper savory umami flavor and a firmer texture. Portobellos also start out as button mushrooms, but the caps are left to grow up to 6 inches in diameter.

Like humans, mushrooms have the ability to increase vitamin D amounts due to UV-light or sunlight exposure. They’re a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin. They contain the antioxidants selenium and ergothioneine. These substances help keep cells healthy and strengthen the immune system.

Choose mushrooms that are firm and smooth and store them in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Since they can absorb water, opinions differ on whether to wash mushrooms or just brush off obvious soil. Most chefs agree a quick rinse won’t make mushrooms soggy.

In the kitchen, mushrooms make a welcome addition to stir-fry, pasta, pizza, soup, rice and omelets. They pair well with your choice of meat, and some varieties, such as lion’s mane, “hen of the woods” or portabella may serve as a savory meat substitute.

These stuffed portobellos may be served as the entrée or a side dish.


Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 portobello mushroom cap (4 to 5 inches in diameter), gills removed
  • ½ cup panko bread crumb
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 10 ounces spinach, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces ricotta or goat cheese
  • ½ cup torn fresh basil leaf
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
  1. Use a spoon to remove the gills from the mushroom caps.
  2. Combine 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) oil, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and add to a in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Add mushrooms, seal bag, turn to coat and marinate for at least 30 minutes up to 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange marinated mushrooms on a baking sheet gill side down. Roast on lower rack until tender, 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Combine panko and 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and stir in Parmesan. Wipe skillet clean.
  5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pepper flakes, then spinach, garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until wilted and liquid has evaporated. Off heat, stir in ricotta or goat cheese, basil, and lemon zest.
  6. Stuff cooked mushrooms with spinach mixture. Sprinkle panko mixture evenly over top. Bake until heated through for 4 minutes or so.

Serves 4          Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Margie Mansure is an extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. As a registered dietitian/nutritionist chef, she offers nutrition and cooking classes to community members.