This first appeared in the Register Star and Daily Mail.
Last Saturday I was doing yard work in our backyard when I noticed a mushroom that looked suspiciously like a morel. Let me say that I know nothing about foraging for wild mushrooms. The real potential of picking a poisonous one has, to my Mom’s relief, scared me off. But THIS one, was too tempting to ignore. I did some research and determined that it was indeed a true morel…so we cooked and ate it (apparently it is wise to thoroughly cook wild mushrooms).
Eating wild mushrooms isn’t something to do wily-nily. If you want to go mushroom-hunting, do lots of research, find a guide and/or join a mycological club.
Luckily, you can get a variety of interesting mushrooms in the grocery store, no guide book or bug spray needed.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of B and D vitamins and a good source of many minerals including selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. They are low in calories and are purported to have cancer prevention properties, so eat up!
Now I love a good burger, but I’ve been reading Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters” and want to incorporate less meat into my diet. Bittman encourages people to be “Lessmeatarians.” Bittman notes that global livestock production is responsible for more greenhouse gasses than transportation. He believes that small changes in people’s diet can help decrease global warming while improving your health. Eating less meat is one of the changes he recommends (cutting junk food out of your diet is another one). Bittman states “simple lifestyle choices (can) help you loose weight, reduce your risk of many long-term or chronic diseases, save you real money, and help stop global warming.” Sounds good to me.
A large portabella mushroom has about 30 calories. A 6-ounce hamburger patty weighs in at around 350 calories (more or less depending on how lean the ground beef is). Easy to see how the mushroom burger is a healthier choice. I won’t be swapping fungi for meat all summer, but once in a while it’s an inexpensive, flavorful, healthy substitute. Save the planet, slim your waist, and get a delicious meal all at the same time. That’s hard to pass up.
4 large Portobello mushroom caps, 4-5 inches in diameter
4 whole-wheat buns
4 thick slices of onion
1 cup Blue cheese (substitute your preferred cheese)
Few handfuls of arugula (or other greens)
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 garlic clove, minced
Dash cayenne pepper
-Select burger-sized, plump, firm mushrooms. Avoid limp, dried or slimy looking ones (if not using right away, store in the refrigerator wrapped in a paper towel).
-Clean mushrooms with a mushroom brush or damp cloth and remove their stems (I save the stems in a freezer bag for stock).
-Place in a dish, stem/gill side up.
-For the marinade, whisk together the vinegar, water, honey, garlic, cayenne pepper and olive oil and drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms.
-Cover and marinate for 30 minutes or more, turning mushrooms once.
-Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium high heat.
-Brush the grill with oil.
-Grill the mushrooms on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. The longer you cook the mushrooms, the meatier they get, just be sure not to burn them.
-With the gill side up, place blue cheese on the mushroom and cook until melted
-Place each mushroom on a bun and top with an onion slice, arugula, a tomato slice (if in season) and whatever condiments you prefer (like homemade mayo, ketchup, and mustard).