It’s hard for me to believe there was ever a time when I didn’t love mushrooms, but it’s true. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I willingly ate them and loved them. Now my refrigerator is never without some type of mushrooms. They are one of the most versatile vegetables – you can use them in appetizers, entrees, sides and sauces. There are more types of mushrooms than I can name, and I’m pretty sure many people begin their vegan journey by eating some big Portobello caps. If you have wanted to eat more mushrooms but you aren’t sure how to cook with them, you’re in luck. Here are ten ways to cook with mushrooms that you are guaranteed to love.
1. Spreads and Appetizers
Mushrooms make for some delicious appetizers and spreads. While I somehow survived a Jewish upbringing without ever tasting chopped liver, I wanted to come up with my own recipe for a friend who had recently switched to a plant-based diet. I kept it very simple: just mushrooms, walnuts and spices. The whole dish takes about 15 minutes or less to prepare. You can certainly add your own spin by using different types of mushrooms, spices, lentils or whatever ingredients you prefer. This makes a wonderful appetizer or dip for parties, holidays or whenever. Oh, and instead of calling it chopped liver, it’s now Mushroom and Walnut Pate.
Put a skillet over medium heat and add 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil starts to ripple, add 10 oz. chopped cremini mushrooms and 1 small chopped onion to the skillet. Cook until they are browned and softened; it should take around 10 minutes. Mix in ½ tsp. dried thyme, ½ tsp. dried rosemary, ½ tsp. Herbes de Provence and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Don’t add any salt yet as salt takes the moisture out of the mushrooms and keeps them from browning. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts, ½ tsp. kosher salt and 1 Tbs. water. Process until it’s a smooth paste. Taste for spice adjustments. I find I often have to add a pinch more of this or that until it’s just right. Refrigerate in a covered dish for a couple of hours. The flavors really intensify over time. Even better, make it the night before. The first time I made this, I tasted it right away and thought it was ok. The next day I tasted it again and it was incredible. Serve with crackers or toasted bread. Yum!
Stuffed mushrooms are one of the most popular appetizers. Try these Ultimate Stuffed Mushrooms, Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Mushrooms with Pecans, and Baked Pesto Mushies with Crunchy Cashew Cheese, These Veggies and Mushroom Mini Bites are as delicious as they are adorable.
I can’t think of an ingredient that would make a more luxurious and flavorful soup than mushrooms. This bowl of Zucchini “Ramen” Noodles is filled with mushrooms and looks amazing. This Cremini Mushroom, Rainbow Chard, Shallot Soup is hearty with pasta while this Black Bean Mushroom Soup is high in protein and taste. Mushrooms can also be used to make raw soups like this Raw Cream of Broccoli Mushroom Soup and this Raw Creamy Mushroom Soup with Avocado & Miso.
Though I have never had an authentic one, one of my favorite sandwiches is the Philly Cheesesteak. When I needed to come up with a vegan version of it, I turned to mushrooms. Here is how to make my mouthwatering Vegan Philly Cheesesteak: Preheat the broiler. Heat a deep skillet with 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add 6-8 sliced Portobello mushroom and let brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp. dried thyme and ½ tsp. black pepper and mix well. When the mushrooms are browned and shrunken, add ½ large sliced onion and kosher salt to the skillet. Don’t add the salt until after the mushrooms are browned as it slows down their cooking. Cook about 5 minutes until the onion is caramelized and softened. Add 1 Tbs. vegan Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Continue to let cook about another 3-4 minutes. Slice open 2 long or 4 short loaves of bread and place on a baking sheet. Apply cooking spray (or drizzle olive oil) on the bread. Take one whole clove of garlic, cut the tip off, and rub the garlic on the bread (you may also use dried garlic powder). Spread vegan mayo on the bread, if desired. Fill the loaves with the mushrooms. Top with ½ – 1 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese. Put the heroes in the broiler for about 4-5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Cut the heroes into halves. Get a lot of napkins.
4. Burgers, Balls and Sausages
Since mushrooms are meaty and savory, they are a great substitute for meat when making burgers, meatballs and sausages. For delicious burgers, try these Pesto Mushroom Burgers, Mushroom Barley Grillers, Portobello Mushroom Burgers, Portobello Patties, and the Bad Ass “Lamb” Burger. Meatballs are meaty without the meat in these Garlic Portobello Meatless Balls. If you loved sausages, you will love these Soy-Free Glamorgan Sausages in Eggplant Bacon Wrap. Homemade Spicy Italian Sausage, Gluten-Free Breakfast Sausage, and The Gutbuster Sandwich- Homemade Vegan Italian Sausage on Baguette. Don’t worry, bacon-fans, there’s Shitake Bacon for you.
5. Sauces and Gravies
When I want to make any sauce or gravy thicker and more savory, I add mushrooms. Sometimes I add mushrooms to My Mom’s Marinara Sauce, which just makes the perfect pasta sauce even more perfect. Another pasta sauce that is incredible is my Mushroom Cream Sauce. Rich, meaty mushrooms cooked in a cream sauce with garlic and thyme makes for a hearty and delicious dish. Try changing up the types of mushrooms you use for variety and different textures. To make it: in a large skillet or saucepan, heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 10 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Mix in 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 tsp. dried thyme. Add 2 cups of halved grape tomatoes, kosher salt and black pepper and cook until the tomatoes burst, about 10 minutes. You can help the tomatoes along by pressing down gently on them with a potato masher. When the tomatoes have burst, add in ½ cup non-dairy cream and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens a bit and the cream is heated. Add a little reserved pasta cooking water, about ¼ cup at a time, to help thicken the sauce and make it stick to the pasta better. Add the pasta to the pan and toss until it is well coated with sauce. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with grated vegan parmesan, if desired.
For another mushroom cream sauce, you must try this Succulent Tortellini with Mushroom Cream Sauce. Mushrooms also help make the most amazing gravies. I don’t need a holiday to whip up a pot of Mushroom Gravy or my Mushroom Veloute Sauce that is amazing served over pan-fried tofu cutlets or seitan steaks. You can also try this Easy Mushroom Gravy and enjoy these Gluten-Free Biscuits with Mushroom Gravy.
6. Pasta Dishes
Mushrooms and pasta are a marriage made in heaven. They can be mixed with the pasta, stuffed into the pasta or cooked into the sauce. Savor the goodness in this Wild Garlic Gnocchi with Almond Cream Sauce, Potatoes and Porcini Ravioli in Broccoli Cream Sauce, Three Mushroom Tagliatelle with Garlic Sauce, and Broccoli Mushroom Rotini Casserole. It may not be pasta but it’s close – mushrooms are excellent on pizza as in this Eggplant, Pesto and Mushroom Pizza with Pesto.
Risotto is one of the most popular and elegant rice dishes. It’s usually made with Arborio rice, but I wanted to make one with brown rice. It takes longer, a lot longer, but it is possible. My risotto also has Portobello mushrooms and vegan blue cheese crumbles. It’s rich, creamy and full of flavor. To make my Brown Rice Portobello Risotto: heat 8 -10 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth or water in a sauce pan. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs. vegan butter and 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add 4 diced Portobello mushroom caps and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are browned. Add 1 small diced onion and cook until soft and browned, about 4 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and 3 chopped scallions. Continue cooking for 1 minute. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl, cover and set aside.
Add 2 cups short-grain brown rice to the skillet and let the rice toast for about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup vegan white wine and let it reduce until it is almost evaporated. Add the simmering vegetable broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring and cooking, until the liquid is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Continue until the rice is tender. This may take as long as 40 – 50 minutes for brown rice. Make sure you’re listening to some good music so you can sing along or reading a good book to make the time pass faster. Otherwise, you could go STIR-crazy!
When the rice is just al dente, add back the mushrooms. Cook for another 10 minutes, adding more broth or water as needed. The risotto should feel creamy but not mushy. Crumble in 4 oz. vegan blue cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve while hot. Also try this Vegan Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto and this Mushroom Steel Cut Oatmeal Risotto.
8. Side Dishes
Mushrooms don’t have to be the star of the dish to be delicious. They can add flavor, umami and “beef” up any side dish though on their own, they can make awesome sides. Indulge in this Cheesy Sprouted Brown Rice with Baby Spinach and Mushrooms, Potato and Mushroom Gratin, Gluten-Free Vegan Stuffing, Vegan Chestnut Mushroom Stuffing, Indian Spicy Sauteed Mushrooms, and Kale and Mushroom Gratin.
When my husband and I became vegan, we went to a restaurant and had sandwiches filled with mushrooms, artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes. The funny thing is that I didn’t like any of those three ingredients. It turned out to be the most delicious sandwich I ever had. I made my own version of the dish, but we ate it as an entrée. Six years later, it is still one of our favorite meals. To make my Portobello Mushrooms with Artichoke Hearts and Sundried Tomatoes: heat a large, deep sauté pan with 1 Tbs. olive oil on medium heat. Add 4 sliced Portobello mushroom caps and let them cook without moving them to ensure they get dark and well-done, about 5 minutes. Then flip them to cook the other side, another 4-5 minutes. After the mushrooms have shrunken and look dark and juicy, add 1 thinly sliced onion and a diced bell pepper to the pan and let cook until onions are slightly browned and the pepper is softened, about 4 minutes Add 6 sliced sun-dried tomatoes and 1 ½ cups artichoke hearts to the pan. Season with 1 tsp. each ground cumin, dried thyme and paprika, ½ tsp. black pepper and kosher salt to taste. Mix well and let cook about 3 minutes. There should be juices in the pan from the mushrooms and vegetables. If the pan is dry, add more oil. Stir in 2 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce and 1 Tbs. flour. Stir to mix the flour in and let cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup vegetable broth, mix well and let it cook on low heat until the gravy thickens. Wilt in a bunch of fresh baby spinach. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and vegan feta cheese.
Other incredible mushroom entrees include Seitan and Mushroom Bourguignon, Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie, Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff, Portobello Wellington, Sweet Raw Yam Noodles with Mushrooms and Sesame Seeds, Indian-Style Mushrooms and Green Peas, Spicy Mushroom Stir-Fry with Garlic, Black Pepper and Chives, Swiss Chard Quiche with Wild Mushrooms, and Raw Vegan Curry with Marinated Mushrooms and Onions.
10. Savory Fillings and Toppings
Whenever I make any dish that involves a filling, such as omelets, one of the first ingredients I think to use are mushrooms. They add tons of flavor, nutrition and texture like in my Quinoa, Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes. Fill your tortillas with mushrooms to make these Tacos with Spinach, Potato, Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions. This Low-Fat Silken Tofu Omelet is filled with mushrooms, while they are the topping of these Mushroom Rosemary Dinner Pancakes. Speaking of toppings, don’t miss this Savory Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Shitake Mushroom Streusel.
There are so many ways to enjoy mushrooms. All of these recipes are just the beginning. What’s your favorite mushroom dish? Let us know in the comments.
Image source: Raw Creamy Mushroom Soup with Avocado & Miso