Fungus Among Us: Mushrooms, Part 1

MushroomCollage2featured from left to right: cremini, maitake, grey dove oyster, shiitake

There are an unbelievable amount of mushrooms available in the store right now. And while you might be frightened by the looks of some of them, rest assured, they're all delicious and filled with phytonutrients. Here's some basic information about them and some ideas for how to use them. Be sure to stop in to the store this evening to try the Gray Dove Oyster Mushroom and Goat Cheese crostini (recipe below).

Cremini: Most table mushrooms are part of the same variety and that includes white button, cremini, and portebello mushrooms. Cremini mushrooms are in the in between stage of growth of a white button mushroom and a portabello mushroom. Creminis are thought of as little immune boosting powerhouses and can help in regulating white blood cell activity. They provide excellent amounts of selenium, manganese and zinc, which are all important antioxidants that aid in healthy cell production. They are closely related to white button mushrooms, but have a slightly deeper, earthier flavor. Use them in pasta dishes.

Maitake: Commonly called "Hen of the Woods", but are known in Japan as "the dancing mushroom". They are a soft mushroom and are particularly fond of oak and elm trees. Maitake are also full of immune boosters and also have the ability to lower the risk of hypertension and diabetes. They have a notable woodsy flavor and are an excellent addition to soups and stews.

Grey Dove Oyster: The Grey Dove mushroom is a member of the oyster mushroom family which are great for preventing cardiovascular disease due to their high fiber, mineral content and low caloric value. They also aid in lowering cholesterol and have been used for joint health and muscle relaxation.  Oyster mushrooms are also renowned for their ability to degrade environmental toxins. They are delicate in texture and flavor and cook rather quickly. Here's an easy and delicious recipe for using Grey Oyster Mushrooms which are now grown locally in Rosalia, WA.

Grey Dove Mushroom & Goat Cheese Crostini

1/2 pound Grey Dove or other Oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped 3 cloves of garlic — 2 smashed and left whole, 1 minced 3 small or 1 large green onion, finely chopped 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped ½ cup of fresh chives, chopped Salt and pepper, to taste 3 tablespoons butter 3 ounces goat cheese, softened by leaving at room temperature while cooking Sliced Ciabatta bread or French baguette rounds, lightly toasted

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onions and chives; cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until fragrant and becoming tender. 2. Add 1 remaining tablespoon butter; add mushrooms and gently toss with spoon. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. 3. While mushrooms cook, toast bread. Lower heat to low after 5 minutes. 4.Once bread toasts and is still warm, spread with goat cheese. 5. Check mushrooms to ensure they are tender. Remove from heat and spoon warm mushroom mixture over goat cheese topped bread.

Shiitake: Sure the spelling makes us giggle, but shiitake mushrooms have so much more to offer. They are great for cardiovascular health and are a fantastic source of non-animal based iron. Shiitake mushrooms have a buttery flavor and are traditionally used in miso soup.  They also make a great addition to Asian noodle dishes.