Among an estimated 100,000 varieties of mushrooms, four stand out for their potent healing properties: maitake, shiitake, reishi, and the common white button. The first three have been used in Asia for 2,000 years to treat various ailments, and the last has antioxidant levels as high as the rest. Initial findings suggest that all four support heart health and fight cancer. Maitake, shiitake, and white button mushrooms are rich in dietary fibers, including cholesterol-lowering chitin, and immunity-boosting beta-glucan. Reishi, a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, is also known for boosting immunity, and for enhancing mood, relieving altitude sickness, supporting liver function, and lessening asthma symptoms.
Choose It & Use It
Reishis can go in soups and sauces but are best consumed as tea. (Grind 4 grams of dried mushrooms in a coffee grinder. Steep 30 minutes in 2 cups of boiling water. Strain through a coffee filter.) Maitakes can be steeped similarly, grilled, fried, or sautéed. Popular in veggies and pasta, shiitakes have many culinary uses. White buttons are even more versatile: add slices to sandwiches, or sauté them in oil to enhance entrées and sauces. White buttons and portobellos are easy to find at supermarkets, but fresh, exotic varieties can be hit-or-miss. Stock up on dried mushrooms, which, after a soak in hot water (30 minutes for pieces; 1 hour for whole mushrooms), can replace fresh in recipes. Added bonus: the soaking liquid can be used in place of broth in sauces or soups.
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Butternut Squash and Duxelles Casserole
Duxelles (pronounced dook-SEHL) is a paste of finely chopped mushrooms and shallots used to flavor classic French dishes. A food processor makes quick work of the chopping. The mixture is extremely versatile—try it spread on toast as an appetizer. This recipe is also a good way to usemore
In tapas bars, champiñones al ajillo (garlicky mushrooms) are usually served in small, shallow bowls along with toothpicks.more
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro
Farro is an Italian whole grain that cooks in the same amount of time as brown rice. Here, it lends chewy texture and nutty flavor to a stuffed mushroom entrée. To have enough leftovers for a next-day supper of Mushroom Calzones and Farro Salad, setmore
Portobello Carpaccio with Orange-Kalamata Tapenade
Slicing mushrooms on the bias, angling the knife, rather than cutting perpendicular to the cutting board makes for broader but not thicker slices and a professional-looking presentation.more
Mushroom Ravioli with Green Pea Purée
Homemade ravioli is a great make-ahead dish when you use won ton wrappers for the pasta. Place filled ravioli on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard. Store in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer.more
Roasted Leeks with Poached Eggs and Warm Spinach Salad
Roasting leeks brings out their root-vegetable side so that they can be served on their own or as part of this salad.more