If you love the savory taste of umami, also known as the "fifth taste," then you won't need any other reason for cooking with mushrooms. I know I'm one of those people who think mushrooms can make just about anything taste better. Whether simply sautéed or incorporated into other foods, mushrooms are a treat to the palate.
For those who are more inclined towards the sweet, salty, sour or bitter taste of foods, mushroom dishes are a great way to stretch your meat budget without giving up the chewy texture of meat. Incorporating mushrooms into your favorite recipes or replacing other ingredients with them can add moisture, increase the volume, reduce the calories and improve the nutritional value.
Cooking With Mushrooms
You can use fresh or reconstituted dried mushrooms to extend ground meats, such as beef, veal, chicken, turkey or pork. Just chop the mushrooms to match the size of the cooked meat and add them to replace 25%-50% of the meat called for in your meatloaf, meatballs, hamburgers, chili, and tacos.
If you make your own filling for ravioli, cannelloni, dumplings, or pierogi, finely minced mushrooms can be used along with meat or instead of it. Same for stuffed cabbage and peppers.
By adding minced mushrooms to your turkey stuffing you can lower the calories by 430 with every cup of dry bread crumbs you replace with them, and increase the moisture of the stuffing.
The flavor of soups, stews, ragouts, and curry dishes can be enriched with mushrooms, without overpowering the signature flavor. This is a great way to use the mushroom stems that may not have been needed for other purposes. Just chop them up and add them to the pot with the other vegetables.
One of my favorite ways of using raw mushrooms is to stretch my chicken, turkey or egg salad. Chopped cremini (a.k.a. baby bella) mushrooms blend in perfectly with chicken and turkey salad while white button mushrooms are best for the egg salad.
The top three nutritional attributes of mushrooms are that they are very low in calories and have no fat or sodium. Since calories, fat and sodium are three things nearly every adult and most children need to eat less of to reduce the risks of obesity, heart disease and stroke, mushrooms are a great addition to the diet.
One cup of sliced raw white mushrooms equals 2/3 cup when cooked. It contains:
2 g Carbohydrate
2 g Protein
1 g Fiber
10% or more of the Daily Value for Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, and Copper
All mushrooms contain some Vitamin D, but growers can increase the levels by exposing them to ultraviolet light. Check the package to see if yours have this advantage.