Long before I moved to the Mid-Atlantic, I was fond of mushrooms. What was missing is the fact I only knew of about three varieties of store-bought mushrooms. Shortly after we moved north of Baltimore we discovered Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the self-proclaimed Mushroom Capital of the World.
First up on the list during my path of discovery was trying each restaurant’s mushroom soup in the downtown Kennett Square area. Some used mushrooms I had never heard of like maitake, reishi, and Royal Trumpet.
Next up was finding a source to buy some fresh mushrooms to take home to experiment with. After a couple of years, on this path of discovery, I was asked to cook occasional mushroom themed classes and demonstrations at my favorite mushroom shop. It was through that work I began to learn about the many varieties of store-bought mushrooms and how to prepare them.
Royal Trumpet mushrooms in The Woodlands at Phillips mushroom display.
Exotic mushroom varieties are daunting to most consumers. They ought not be intimidated by these strange but tasty morsels. There are several sources for recipes including the Mushroom Council, my website, or by using search engines. Mushrooms deserve a place at your table due to taste, availability, and purported health benefits.
Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins and minerals, and are said to be the only food containing natural vitamin D. I learned at a mushroom talk if you take a shitake mushroom and place it in the sun, gill side up, the vitamin D content increases by hundreds percent or more depending on how long you leave it in the sun! City of Hope research scientists have found mushrooms to have cancer fighting properties making it more likely to end up on plates of savvy foodies.
Maitake and Pompom are leading the quest in health research to fight disease in a natural way. I look forward to hearing more as this exciting research uncovers health benefits of mushrooms.
A funny sign at a mushroom stand in Portland Oregon's farmer's market.
Mushroom blending is a trend that is growing rapidly where chopped mushrooms are mixed with ground meats like beef to make a delicious burger and possibly a much healthier one, too.
Use white mushrooms or crimini for a filler ingredient in your home-made burgers or meatloaf and I bet your fussy kids that hate to eat a mushroom wouldn’t know it was there. Mushrooms are cheaper than beef making it a great extender of your budget.
If you haven’t tried Shitake Bacon yet, this amazing treat is great on salads, burgers or just munching on their own. Shitake Bacon is thin-sliced Shitake mushrooms tossed in olive oil and salt then baked in a 325° oven for about 20 minutes until crispy. It tastes a lot like bacon.
Vegetarians and meat lovers alike love this cooked mushroom dish. It’s one of the most popular items I demonstrate at free mushroom cooking demonstrations when cooking for The Woodlands at Phillips Mushrooms in Kennett Square, PA.
To help you give specialty mushrooms a try I made up this Royal Trumpet Soba Salad recipe. If you can’t find Royal Trumpet mushrooms substitute with crimini mushrooms, which are a baby portabella mushroom.
Grilling the Royal Trumpets
• 1/2 pound Royal Trumpet mushrooms
• 8 oz, more or less, soba noodles
• 1 Tbsp chopped chives
• 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
• 1 Tbsp sesame oil
• 1 Tbsp grilling oil, olive, corn etc
• 2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar, available in most grocery store Asian sections
• optional: 1/2 red bell pepper chopped or sliced thin
1. Fire up the grill, if gas med-hi heat will do
2. Slice mushrooms in half length-wise
3. Brush with oil and grill about 3 minutes each side.
4. Remove from grill to a plate for cooling
5. Boil water and cook per directions on soba package
6. Drain and rinse noodles in cold water
7. Cut mushrooms into bite sized pieces
8. Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl
9. Season with salt and pepper to taste, soy sauce, or Tamari can be used instead of salt
Serves four as a side dish or two as a lunch salad
Note: Crimini mushrooms can be substituted for Royal Trumpets. Cut Criminis in half, brush with oil and grill for 3 minutes each side.
Snow peas sliced in bite size bits are a nice green vegetable addition.
Kurt Jacobson has been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fourth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening and is volunteering at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland, to learn real organic gardening. For this and other recipes using garden greens, and more fresh veggies check out his food blog. For tasty travel ideas check out Kurt's travel blog, TasteofTravel2.com. Read all of Kurt's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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