Ancient cultures have revered the health benefits of mushrooms for centuries. Mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains.
Low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol- free, gluten-free and very low in sodium, mushrooms provide important nutrients such as selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin D. But what I like best about them are their flavor and versatility in cooking.
The Tekoa Farm, established by Mira Wiegensberg in 1986, specializes in growing and marketing quality produce, including many kinds of mushrooms, and has made a name for itself among the most discerning chefs in Israel.
In addition to its numerous kinds of mushrooms, the farm recently added new items such as fresh ginger, fresh turmeric root, lime and other gourmet items.
Here is some of the information included in the Tekoa mushroom guide: Oyster mushrooms: (pitriot ya’ar in Hebrew) They grow on trees. The mushrooms have a very “meaty” texture and a gentle wood aroma.
Use: For all familiar mushroom recipes such as soups, quiches and stir-fry.
Shiitake mushrooms: When fresh, they are very aromatic and add flavor to stews and soups.
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Originally from Japan, where they grow on oak trees, these mushrooms are popular in Asian cuisines.
Use: In pasta dishes, soups, omelets, fish and meat dishes.
The stem of the mushroom can be used only in long-cooking dishes.
Remove it for other dishes.
Shimeji mushrooms: Both brown and white varieties grow on trees. They have a crunchy texture and a very long shelf life.
Use: In fish dishes, stir-fry, soups and more. They should be sautéed before eating.
King oyster mushrooms: These are elegant and majestic. In Israel they are called King of the Forest mushrooms. The entire mushroom is edible and very tasty. They are considered a gourmet food in many top restaurants.
Use: In chicken, meat and fish dishes, as well as soups and sauces.
The following recipes created by Ines-Shilat Yanai, and photos, are courtesy of Tekoa farms. For more information go to tekoafarms.co.il
CHICKEN MUSHROOM CURRY Serves 6
Like it hot? You can add sliced hot chili peppers.
✔ 1 kg. chicken breast, sliced into large chunks, or 6 to 8 thighs
✔ ½ cup flour for dusting the chicken
✔ 1 package oyster mushrooms, separated
✔ 1 onion, cut lengthwise and sliced into thin strips
✔ 5 cloves garlic, sliced
✔ 1 can coconut milk
✔ 2 tsp. yellow curry paste (or less if you like it very mild)
✔ 1 tsp. cumin
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ 2 sprigs thyme
✔ ¼ cup olive oil
✔ Green onion Pour oil into a wide, shallow pot.
Lightly flour the chicken, shake excess flour and fry until browned on all sides; no need to cook the chicken until done. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic to the pot. Stir well and cook. Add the curry, cumin, salt, pepper, thyme and coconut milk.
Stir. Cook until sauce begins to bubble. Lower heat and return the chicken to the pot. Cook for 30 minutes half-covered.
Serve with rice, garnished with green onion.
SHIMEJI AND BULGUR STEW Serves 4 to 6
This vegetarian dish is chock full of nutrition. It can be a main dish or a side dish.
✔ 1 package Shimeji mushrooms
✔ 2 cups bulgur
✔ ¼ cup dried cranberries
✔ 100 gr. peeled white almonds (preferably slivered)
✔ 1 onion, chopped
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ ¼ tsp. cinnamon
✔ ¼ cup olive oil
✔ 1 heaping tsp. cumin (optional)
✔ ¼ cup water or chicken broth
✔ ½ cup parsley or cilantro, chopped Place bulgur in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover and add up to 3 cm. above the level of the bulgur. Leave for 20 minutes until the bulgur absorbs the water.
Place in a strainer to drain the excess water.
Separate the mushrooms into single ones by cutting the base of the stems. Pour olive oil into a wide, shallow pot and heat a little. Sauté the onions until golden.
Add mushrooms, almonds and cranberries, season with salt, pepper and cumin. Stir well and turn heat off.
Add parsley or cilantro, mix and serve warm with tehina on the side.
PASTA, SHIITAKE AND ROASTED TOMATO SALAD Serves 6
To shorten the cooking time, use sun-dried tomatoes.
✔ 1 bag pasta (any kind)
✔ 1 tray shiitake mushroom, stems removed, halved
✔ 6 cloves garlic, sliced
✔ ¾ cup natural pecans, shelled
✔ 8 firm Tamar tomatoes, halved, or 16 cherry tomatoes
✔ 1 cup basil leaves
✔ Black pepper
✔ Olive oil
✔ Handful basil leaves
✔ 3 to 4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese Heat oven to 200º.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the halved tomatoes cut-side up. Sprinkle salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil. Bake about 20 minutes until tomatoes become golden and have shrunk a little but are still moist.
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
Heat olive oil in a deep pot or frying pan. Sauté mushrooms, garlic and pecans for 3 to 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta and roasted tomatoes to the pan. Stir and continue cooking while gently tossing for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Serve garnished with basil and Parmesan.
KING OYSTER MUSHROOM SOUP WITH CHESTNUTS Serves 4
✔ 2 king oyster mushrooms, chopped
✔ 2 large onions, chopped
✔ 1 large leek, sliced
✔ ¼ cup chopped celery ribs
✔ 150 gr. peeled ready-to-eat chestnuts
✔ 50 gr. butter
✔ ½ cup milk or white wine
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ Pinch nutmeg
✔ Olive oil and croutons or chopped chestnut for serving In a medium pot, saute onions in butter for a few minutes. Add leeks and mushrooms and stir. When heated through, add celery and seasonings and cook a little more. Add the milk/or wine and chestnuts. Save a few chestnuts for garnish.
Add 4 cups water, heat until almost boiling and then lower heat to a simmer.
Cook semi-covered for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat. With a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth.
Taste and season. If the soup is too thick, add a little water until you reach desired density.
To serve: Drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle chestnuts or croutons.
Note: To make a vegan version of this soup, replace butter with olive oil and replace milk with ¼ cup water and ¼ cup wine.
Recipe by Yossi Ben-Dayan MUSHROOM AND LEEK RISOTTO
The key to a creamy risotto is to stir, stir, stir. The stirring releases the rice’s natural starches, making the sauce thick and velvety.
(Recipe Yossi Ben-Dayana)
✔ 1 leek, white part only, chopped
✔ 4 shallots, chopped
✔ ⅓ cup canola oil
✔ 2 cups risotto rice
✔ Handful dried porcini mushrooms
✔ 1 package (100 gr.) fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, quartered
✔2 packages (150 gr.) fresh brown or white shimeji mushrooms
✔2 king oyster mushrooms, halved lengthwise and then sliced
✔ ½ cup white wine
✔ 6 cups boiling water
✔ 1 Tbsp. salt
✔ 50 gr. butter
✔ ½ cup cream
✔ 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (optional) In a pot, sauté onion in oil until transparent. Wash the porcini mushrooms and add to the pot together with all the other mushrooms. Continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add the rice, salt, pepper to taste and continue to cook until rice is heated.
Pour the white wine and stir until most of it evaporates.
Add 2 cups of boiling water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook uncovered while constantly stirring until all the liquid is absorbed into the rice.
Add 2 cups of water and repeat the same process. Do the same for the third time with the rest of the water. Cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
Remove from heat, add butter and cream and mix gently until all the butter melts. You can add grated Parmesan at this stage.
Note: The rice should be wet (all’ondo) but with a hard center (al dente).
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