Thursday, April 17, 2008

Meatless grilling. Blasphemy? Wave of the future?

Last year, 17.4 million new grills were shipped and 95 percent of Americans fired up their grills, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association – showing that people are invested in their outdoor cooking skills.

While most people are bent toward a carnivorous palate, the fire is the perfect way to cook mushrooms. They’re low-cal, high in Vitamin D and quickly prepared on a spring or summer eveing.

Among some of the tidbits passed along by the Mushroom Council:

  • Vitamin D Dilemma: Although people are out in the sunshine in the spring and summer, only 10 percent of Americans have optimal levels of vitamin D, according to a journal in the American Heart Association. Whether you’re using sunblock or are one of the 34 million Americans who have office jobs, almost everyone needs more vitamin D. Mushrooms are the only fruit or veggie that naturally contains vitamin D, so toss some in your favorite summer salad, like the “Farmers Market Salad,” for a D-licious meal.

  • Fresh Superfoods: Did you know that mushrooms have the same amount of potassium as a small banana? Or that mushrooms have an antioxidant capacity similar to brightly colored vegetables? Not only are they nutrient-rich, mushrooms have umami, an elusive fifth flavor, making them a superfood for taste and nutrition.

Farmers Market Mushroom Salad

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6-8
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 cup zucchini, chopped
2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 bell peppers of varying colors, diced
1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
Salt and pepper to taste
2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup arugula
Heat two tablespoons olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a single layer of mushrooms and cook, without stirring, for about five minutes or until mushrooms become red-brown on one side. Flip and cook about five minutes more, until other side is same color; set aside.
Sauté zucchini for about five minutes, adding additional olive oil to skillet if necessary. Turn off heat and add corn and rice; stir to combine. Cook for an additional three to five minutes to warm ingredients.
Drizzle with remaining olive oil and lemon juice and gently stir in bell pepper and thyme; season with salt and pepper.
Arrange tomatoes and arugula on a plate; pour on rice mixture and top with mushrooms. May be served warm or cold.

Grilled Mushroom Cobb Salad
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 red bell pepper, cut in 2-inch pieces
4 Portabella mushrooms, sliced
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup prepared vinaigrette salad dressing, or more to taste
4 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
Wish together oil, salt and pepper and brush mushroom strips and red peppers with mixture. Place red pepper pieces on a skewer and grill peppers and mushrooms, turning once, for about 10 minutes.
Toss lettuce with vinaigrette and arrange on a shallow serving platter. Arrange mushrooms, roasted peppers, eggs and blue cheese in four “stripes” across the bed of lettuce. Serve chilled.

Red Pepper, White Button Mushroom and Blue Potato Salad
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4
6 2-inch blue potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
12 large white button mushrooms, halved
2 red bell peppers, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 cups mache or arugula lettuce
Preheat grill. While grill heats, boil water and blanch potato cubes for 5 minutes, then cut in half and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, rosemary and salt. Add mushrooms, potatoes and pepper pieces and toss to coat, then skewer individually, to create four skewers of each ingredient.
Reserve the remaining marinade and grill vegetables until tender, turning once, about five to 10 minutes total.
Split lettuce between four plates and place one of each skewer on top; drizzle with reserved marinade and serve either warm or cold.

Recipes courtesy of the Mushroom Council and