Magic with mushrooms
Once known as the ‘food of the gods’, wild mushrooms have been enjoyed around the world for thousands of years. However, not all of us wish to experiment with the wild varieties found in the countryside. It’s easier to have fun with the commercially grown varieties available from supermarkets and greengrocers.
Mushrooms are the ‘meat’ of the vegetable world. They are more closely related in DNA to humans than to plants. Just as with human skin, mushrooms can produce vitamin D by being exposed to sunlight.
Mushrooms flourish in the dark or the light as their energy comes from the growing medium not from photosynthesis as with green plants.
Although mushrooms are made up of around 90 per cent water they are still very nutritious. A single portabello mushroom can contain more potassium than a banana. They are good sources of B vitamins along with essential minerals such as copper, selenium and potassium. They are low in fat, carbs and salt.
To use cultivated mushrooms, just wipe the caps and stalks with a paper towel or soft mushroom brush. Do not wash or their flavour will diminish.
To store, refrigerate mushrooms in a paper bag to absorb any moisture and prevent them from becoming slimy.
Mixed mushroom paté
A delicious pre-dinner nibble. Serves 6-8.
1/4 cup dried porcini
1/2 cup hot water
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup ground almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Soak the porcini in the hot water for 30 minutes to soften. Strain then squeeze the porcini dry, then finely chop.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic, fresh mushrooms, porcini, seasonings and thyme. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and the liquid has evaporated.
- Blend the mushroom mixture, almonds and olive oil in a food processor, until smooth. Pack into a small loaf pan or crock and refrigerate until set.
- Turn onto a serving plate and serve with crostini or crackers.