Spring is here, so make way for new seasonal veggies! With the cool temperatures, moderate amounts of rainfall and denser humidity in the air, springtime is a great time for mushrooms to grow.
Mushrooms are often confused as being vegetables when, in fact, they’re actually classified as a fungus. It may sound gross, but when you discover the savory flavor they can add, you’ll see how delicious they can be!
At Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, we know the value that a great-tasting mushroom has to the overall flavor of a dish — that’s why we offer the option of adding grilled mushrooms to any of our burgers or steaks.
We thought it would be fun to highlight a few different types of mushrooms and include some great-tasting recipes you can make right at home using these flavorful fungi.
Button mushrooms, or White mushrooms, are the most commonly used mushrooms and can be found at any grocery store. These mushrooms are a top pick because they taste great raw as well as cooked, and they can be added to just about any dish for extra flavor.
If you’re looking for a delicious way to complement a juicy steak, you can’t go wrong with a savory recipe of buttered and breaded mushrooms.
Portobellos are another well-known type of mushroom that are great for tossing on the grill and loading onto burgers and steaks. Interestingly enough, Portobellos are actually Buttons that were left alone so that they could mature and ripen even more, so if you like the taste of Button mushrooms, you’ll love the mild and meaty flavor of Portobellos.
Vegetarians and vegans will oftentimes use these as a replacement for recipes that call for dark meats like beef and pork. A tasty example of Portobellos being used as a meat substitute is this recipe for Balsamic Garlic Grilled Portobello Mushrooms from Sassy Southern Yankee.
Morels are some of the tastiest mushrooms out there, so don’t let their looks tell you otherwise. In fact, these homely fellows are extremely flavorful, so it would be a pity to pass these up based on their appearance.
These types of mushrooms hit the peak of freshness in April, so now is the best time to cook up a recipe that calls for a combination of risotto rice and this uniquely shaped food.
At first glance, Oyster mushrooms may not look like any of its fungi relatives, but if you look closely, they appear like a matured Button mushroom that’s had its cap removed, turned inside out and then placed back on its stem.
This kind of mushroom grows on the sides of trees and is the easiest kind to cultivate, so if you’re wanting to steam up a great-tasting soup or fry them up and put them in a po’ boy sandwich, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a store that sells them. Better yet, the ease of their cultivation makes them less expensive than their other mushroom counterparts.
Cremini mushrooms come from the same root as the Portobello and Button mushrooms. If you were to put these on a timeline, Buttons would appear first, then the Cremini, followed by the Portobello.
Cremini mushrooms consist of a brown color on both the cap and the stem, and it’s just a bit bigger than the Button mushroom. Because it hasn’t quite reached the size or color of a Portobello, they are often referred to as “baby bellos.”
Just like the Button, Cremini mushrooms have a mild flavor that doesn’t overpower the foods it’s combined with. Try this mushroom sautéed in a wine vinegar for a savory tapa.
Taking into mind that mushrooms are considered to be a fungus, it’s quite interesting the Chanterelle mushroom would give off a sweet smell — a smell that some people describe as “apricot-like.”
If you’ve never heard of or seen a Chanterelle mushroom before, you’re not alone. These are mostly found in the forests of Western Europe, so if you do come across them, they may cost you an extra couple of dollars.
But don’t let their foreign nature get in the way of discovering great recipes like this one from Saveur.
Hen of the Woods
Of all of the edible mushrooms, Hen of the Woods can be considered to be one of the most unique. Not only are they known by the Japanese as maitake (“dancing mushrooms”), but they have one of the most interesting appearances.
Like the Morels, Hen of the Woods don’t have the typical “mushroom” shape. The cap doesn’t make a complete round, and the ends of the petals split and spread apart as it ages. Another characteristic that it shares with Morels is flavor. They both have a savory flavor and an earthy color.
Because Hen of the Woods is mostly used in Japanese dishes, grab some chopsticks and enjoy a homemade bowl of Soba and Maitake mushrooms in soy broth.
Shiitake mushrooms have their own special place in popular culture, but they aren’t used in very many recipes because they grow mainly in the Asian countries of China, Japan and Korea, so they may be a little harder to find.
Authentic Japanese cuisine utilizes Shiitake mushrooms in many ways, mostly as fillers for soups, stir fries, fried noodles and fried rice. This hearty food adds body and texture to sauces as well. So if you’re looking for a taste of authentic Japanese soup, try adding this food to the mix.
At Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen we have our own dishes that incorporate this flavorful food like our Dijon Chicken and Mushrooms and the hot and melty Philly Cheesesteak.