An unusual natural treasure, mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses bathed in earthy, savory flavors to liven many a meal.
The most common mushroom in stores, white buttons represent about 90 percent of those consumed in the United States. With a mild taste, they blend well in most any recipe calling for mushrooms. Their flavor intensifies when cooked, but you can also enjoy them raw in salads or as a dipping veggie. They range in size from tiny (button) to jumbo, which can be stuffed and baked.
Also known as baby bellas or browns, cremini mushrooms look similar to white buttons but have a richer brown cap color and a firmer texture. They are a nice substitute to white buttons if you crave a deeper, earthier flavor. Best served cooked, they work in most any recipe calling for mushrooms; cook for no longer than 7–8 minutes for the best flavor.
The larger relative of creminis—just a few more days on the mushroom bed and a cremini becomes a portobello—these tan or brown mushrooms can measure up to 6 inches in diameter. With a meat-like texture and hearty flavor, portobellos are popular either grilled and sliced or grilled whole as a flavorful vegetarian “burger.”
Used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years, these exotic mushrooms have become a U.S. favorite for their meaty texture and rich, woodsy flavor when cooked. The stems are too tough to eat, but they add nice flavor in stocks and sauces. A common ingredient in many Asian-style dishes, shiitakes also bring a whiff of fusion to Western dishes.