Portobello mousse on truffled toast with pear and fennel compote. Sautéed shiitake and steak salad on a bed of microgreens. Crimini, arugula and Gruyère pizza. These delectable menu offerings have one thing in common: the mighty mushroom.
Nutrient-rich and incredibly versatile, mushrooms make a wonderful addition to any menu. Once harvested in the wild, today’s mushrooms are mostly cultivated indoors at more than 100 mushroom farms across Canada. And while button mushrooms are the most recognizable, there is a burgeoning business in varieties such as enoki, crimini, morel and oyster. It’s time to be creative with a multitude of mushrooms!
For only 25 calories, a 100-gram serving of mushrooms provides potassium, selenium and a range of B-vitamins including folate. Plus, button and shiitake mushrooms are the only vegetables that contain vitamin D. They contain a plant sterol called ergosterol, which is converted to vitamin D with the help of sunlight or artificial light in indoor farms.
Mushrooms also contain a powerful antioxidant called ergothioneine, which helps reduce cell damage and may protect against heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Exotic mushrooms, such as oyster and shiitake, have the highest amounts of ergothioneine.
Since mushrooms have a high water content, few calories and some fibre, they help add volume to meals so diners feel full on fewer calories. That’s ideal for healthy menu options or lower-calorie fare. Consider this: using ½ cup sautéed white button mushrooms in quiche instead of 4 ounces of cooked bacon saves almost 600 calories, and still adds a robust, meaty flavour.
Just add mushrooms
With increased awareness beyond the common mushrooms, many foodservice operators are adding exotic mushrooms into dishes. King oyster, porcini and enoki mushroom are as beautiful as they are delicious. Of course, the meatiness of staples such as common button, portobello and crimini mushrooms still lend a hearty richness to a variety of dishes.
Did you know? Crimini mushrooms are brownish versions of the common button mushroom, and portobellos are a larger, more mature crimini.
If you can’t find fresh exotic mushrooms, opt for the dried variety, which rehydrate easily. Consider making a mushroom dust out of dried shiitake, porcini, or trumpet mushroom. It can be used as an accent on pasta or risotto, or as a blend with steak spice before grilling a New York strip.
Mushroom sauce is as versatile as gravy and can be used to top meat, pasta, hamburgers or as a perfect substitute for tomato sauce on pizza. Because mushrooms are so versatile and are part of many ethnic cuisines around the globe, they pair well with a host of different herbs and spices, from French-inspired parsley, thyme and tarragon; to Thai chillies, basil and ginger; to Indian curry spices such as cumin and fenugreek.
Maple Leaf is so inspired by mushrooms that we have created a new pot pie featuring luscious chunks of this hearty vegetable, mixed with tender pieces of steak and flavourful beef gravy in flaky pastry. The new Steak & Mushroom Pot Pie is now available to order in 125g individual sizes and is fully cooked so you can simply heat and serve. Each pot pie has 13g of protein and only 396mg of sodium.
No matter which variety you choose to serve, it is best to store fresh mushrooms in a brown paper bag instead of in plastic – this allows them to breathe and stay fresh for longer. It is vital to refrigerate mushrooms since they discolour more rapidly at room temperature, and this causes a reduction in nutrient content (especially of antioxidants). Mushrooms can be stored for up to a week, but are best if used within a few days of purchase.