Mushrooms: a tasty powerhouse

Whether it is a meaty portobello, funnel-shaped oyster or lacy enoki, these and other varieties of fresh mushrooms are now considered superfoods.

Assorted fresh mushrooms and a zesty oriental style dressing star in this warm zippy salad — perfect for lunch or to accompany grilled meat.

Assorted fresh mushrooms and a zesty oriental style dressing star in this warm zippy salad — perfect for lunch or to accompany grilled meat.

Whether it is a meaty portobello, funnel-shaped oyster or lacy enoki, these and other varieties of fresh mushrooms are now considered superfoods.

“They are full of nutrients and are virtually fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free,” says Toronto nutritionist Clare Jones, commenting on recent studies of the popular fungi. “On top of that, they contain a lot of antioxidants and vitamins.”

Jones says she was surprised to discover that mushrooms also contain natural vitamin D.

Jones says that other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals found in mushrooms include essential traces of iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and selenium.

In fact, one portobello mushroom has more potassium than a banana, she points out.

Keep mushrooms in a vented paper bag and refrigerated for best results. Shiitake and oyster mushrooms should be stored in a container with a damp cloth on top to prevent them from drying out.

Most perishable are enoki, which last only a few days. White button, oyster, cremini and boletes stay fresh for up to a week, shiitake and portobello up to two weeks.

Do a nose check: if they smell sour, not earthy, their time is over.

Don’t drown your mushrooms when washing them. They soak up water like sponges which thins flavour and destroys nutrients. Instead, wipe them clean with a damp paper towel or mushroom brush.

Grilled Oriental Mushroom Salad

45 ml (3 tbsp) each vegetable oil and soy sauce

75 ml (1/3 cup) rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

15 ml (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard

2 green onions, chopped

15 ml (1 tbsp) finely minced ginger root

500 g (1 lb) sliced assorted fresh mushrooms (white, cremini, portobello, shiitake, oyster)

45 ml (3 tbsp) teriyaki

4 l (16 cups) salad greens or baby spinach

15 ml (1 tbsp) sesame seeds

Preheat grill.

In a small saucepan, mix oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, mustard, onions and ginger root; set aside.

Pile mushrooms in centre of a large piece of heavy aluminum foil. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce.

Fold in edges and ends to seal well. Barbecue over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until steaming. Heat dressing on barbecue or stovetop just until boiling.

Divide salad greens evenly among 4 large salad plates. Top with warm mushroom slices and drizzle with hot dressing. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4 main-course servings.

Tips: Prepare dressing in microwave-proof bowl or 500-ml (2-cup) glass measuring cup and heat in microwave until boiling.

Mushrooms could be cooked in a 220 C (425 F) oven instead of on the barbecue.

Variation: Substitute garlic teriyaki sauce for plain teriyaki sauce.