Archive for the ‘swapability’ Category

Blending is Trending in Dining Halls Across the Nation

From mushroom blended cheeseburgers to crimini mushroom meatballs, blending was trending at three of the nation’s top universities. Mushroom Council representatives witnessed firsthand students’ passion for mushrooms as they toured Yale University, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of North Texas.

Mushrooms Make the “Final Cut” at Yale

In February the Mushroom Council was proud to participate in the 6th Annual Yale University Final Cut Culinary Competition. The secret ingredient of the night? Mushrooms!
Yale Final Cut Recipe Contest Secret Ingredient - Mushrooms!

Teams of students from each of the 12 residential colleges battled in an Iron Chef style format, in which they had one hour to prepare an appetizer and main course dish using fresh mushrooms and Atlantic salmon. Recipes were assessed by a panel of esteemed judges on a variety of criteria including taste, presentation and creativity.

Yale Final Cut Recipe Contest Winning Mushroom Soup

While the colleges had an hour each to complete their meals, Yale students were able to browse through the vendors and sample various products. Mushroom offerings were plentiful; crimini mushrooms sautéed in butter, shiitake mushrooms glazed with teriyaki, and mushroom bean tacos, with cheese, spicy chipotle and a tangy cilantro lime sauce were just some of samples students had the opportunity to try.

Yale Final Cut Recipe Contest Winners 2014

It was a tight race to declare the winner, but it all came down to how the appetizer and main dish paired together as a complete meal. The $1,000 grand prize and the Copper Pot Trophy went to Berkeley College for their Thai Soup dish. Branford College came in second place with their Mushroom Risotto and Grilled Salmon with Caramelized Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts, and Trumbull College came in third, with their Pesto Salmon with Couscous and Mushroom Crepe.


Mushroom Mania at the University of Massachusetts

Displays over flowing with mushrooms, mushroom blended burgers, crab cakes, meatballs and wraps, and a mock-growing room featuring crimini, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms were just some of the main highlights of the University of Massachusetts’ weeklong Mushroom Mania event.

Mushroom Mania Mock Growing Room at UMASS

During the week, Mushroom Mania “toured” around campus visiting 4 of UMass’ popular dining halls. On Monday students dining at Worcester were treated to Grilled Mushroom, and Chickpea Wraps and Crimini and Pork Meatballs. Tuesday at Berkshire featured a Portabella “Burger,” Mushroom Mac N Cheese, and a Mushroom Crostini. Wednesday brought all kinds of mushroom favorites to Franklin dining hall; a Baby Bella, Caramelized Onion & Swiss Panini, Mushroom, and Potato and Chorizo Tacos topped the menu.

Mushroom Mania Menu at UMASS

The final night of Mushroom Mania festivities left students dining at Hampshire happy and satisfied; Jamaican Jerk Mushroom Lettuce Wraps with Papaya Salsa, Barbecue Pulled Mushroom Slider with Blueberry and Cabbage Slaw, and the Classic Mushroom Blended Cheeseburger were served; all while students waited for celebrity guest, Chef Jehangir Mehta.

Chef Jehangir Mehta at UMASS Mushroom Mania

Chef Mehta, of The Next Iron Chef fame, spoke to students about the many benefits of blending mushrooms into classic meat dishes, while preparing a delicious Blended Portabella Angus Burger with Enoki Mushroom Fries.  Impressed by the mock growing room set up in the dining hall lobby, students came armed with questions, and seized the opportunity to start a discussion. Mushroom Council representatives, Steve Solomon and Brittany Stager, fielded questions and walked students through the types of mushrooms, how they are grown, and the nutritional attributes.

Chef Jehangir Mehta's Blended Burger at UMASS

The mushroom-centric week was rounded out with a special invite-only dinner hosted by Chef Jehangir Mehta at the University Club.


Celebrity Chef Maneet Chauhan Makes Guest Appearance at University of North Texas’ Mushroom Mania

Butternut Squash Soup, Charred Kale Caramelized Shiitake Naan Pizza, and Tandoori Portabella Burgers were just some of the offerings Chopped Judge and Food Network Superstar Chef Maneet Chauhan had planned for students during the University of North Texas’ Mushroom Mania promotion in early March.

Mushroom Mania at University of North Texas

Mushroom Mania brought fun and knowledge together at UNT’s Kerr Cafeteria. A mushroom-centric menu, an Iron-Chef style competition between campus chefs, a live cooking demonstration and sampling of Chef Maneet’s Tandoori Portabella burger had drawn students from every corner of the campus. Students were encouraged to try their hand at mushroom trivia in order to win a UNT Mushroom Mania t-shirt; a great way to engage them in conversation and allow them to ask questions. University North Texas Mushroom Burger

University North Texas Mushroom Naan Pizza

Beyond the excitement the menu and chef competition created, the Mushroom Council and UNT wanted to educate students on mushrooms as a sustainable and affordable food option that can be used to extend or replace meat in various dishes and add nutrition. Students were eager to learn about how mushrooms grow, what makes them a sustainable product, and just how beneficial they are to their health. The students and UNT faculty were beyond thrilled with Maneet’s appearance, toting Mushroom Mania as one of their best events.

How to Select and Store Mushrooms

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed with the selection of produce at your local grocery store, you’re not alone! With so many choices available, it’s often hard to push yourself out of your culinary comfort zone and experiment with new ingredients.

With varieties of fresh mushrooms ranging from portabella, to shiitake, oyster and the classic white button, many people may not realize the diverse flavors that can be added to a dish with a generous serving of mushrooms.

In addition to being low in calories, fat-free, low-sodium and naturally gluten free, umami-rich mushrooms are a natural complement (or replacement) to the meat in dishes you may already love.  If you’ve been holding off on mushrooms because you didn’t know where to start, Chef Bill Briwa from the Culinary Institute of America and Bart Minor, President of the Mushroom Council, answer your questions about how to select and store fresh mushrooms, sending you on your way to create the mushroom dish of your dreams!

How to Select Mushrooms:

  • Purchase mushrooms that are firm with a fresh, smooth appearance. These mushrooms are best used raw in salads or for stuffing. More mature mushrooms will be softer and slightly browned — these will have more flavor, but a shorter shelf life. Chop and cook the day of purchase.
  • The surface of the mushroom should be dry, but not dried out, and appear plump.
  • A closed veil under the cap indicates a delicate flavor, while an open veil and exposed gills mean a richer flavor.

How to Store Mushrooms:

  • For prolonged shelf-life, store mushrooms in their original packaging or in a porous paper bag.
  • Some mushrooms may keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
  • Fresh mushrooms should never be frozen, but sautéed mushrooms that are frozen will keep for up to one month. They are great to have on hand to toss into any meal like pastas, sandwiches/wraps, in salads, etc.

With a little inspiration and a basket of mushrooms, you can kick up the flavor of your dishes in a brand new way. Peruse our Mushroom Meal Makeovers Pinterest board to get inspired, then make your way to the grocery store to pick some beautiful ‘shrooms! Here are a few of our favorite meals made over:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with “Baby Bella” Bacon Bits

It’s time to cook up some savory goodies for our Thanksgiving tables. Our tastebuds are delighted that Chef Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN is sharing her clever and succulent side dish creation with us all. The bacon bits in her dish are actually mushrooms!

Brussels Sprouts with Baby Bella Bacon Bits


Thanksgiving is full of so many traditions. I savor them all. But as someone who also enjoys keeping things interesting, I change up my recipes just a bit from year to year to create intrigue for everyone’s palate. I’m so pleased to be able to share one of my newest non-traditional sides.

It starts with roasted Brussels sprouts. Then the intrigue arrives. I top the veggie beauties with “bacon.” But my recipe is unique since the bacon bits are actually crimini mushroom slices, slow-roasted until crisped, and spiced just right. The dish may just be the talk of the dinner table. Well, at least until it’s time for pie. I hope this dish becomes a new favorite on your holiday plate.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Baby Bella Bacon Bits

Makes 6 servings: 3/4 cup each


  • 1 1/2 pounds medium Brussels sprouts, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 recipe Baby Bella Bacon Bits (see below)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss together the Brussels sprouts, oil, vinegar, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and arrange in a single layer, cut side up.
  2. Roast until well caramelized and just tender on the inside, about 25 minutes, flipping over Brussels sprouts halfway through the roasting process. If desired, sprinkle with additional extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt.
  3. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl, sprinkle with the Baby Bella Bacon Bits, and serve immediately.

Baby Bella Bacon Bits

Makes 1/2 cup


  • 2 teaspoons turbinado (raw) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, stems removed*, thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Stir together the sugar, salt, paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl.
  2. Add the mushrooms to a medium bowl, drizzle with the oil, and toss to fully coat. Sprinkle with the seasoning mixture and toss to fully coat. Arrange in a single layer on a large nonstick  baking sheet.
  3. Roast until reduced in size by about 50 percent and deeply caramelized, about 1 hour 15 minutes. There’s no need to stir or flip over during roasting. Scrape up mushrooms with a spatula to make sure they’re not sticking to the pan; rearrange in a single layer; turn off oven; and return to the warm oven for 45 minutes, to allow to crisp.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool the baby bella bacon bits on the pan on a rack to allow to further crisp, at least 15 minutes, and serve. If desired, prepare and store in the refrigerator overnight; bring to room temperature before serving.

*Save mushroom stems for other cooking purpose.

Fall into Good Eating Habits: 5 Easy Things to Just Add In

David Grotto, RDN, LDN is sharing a prep ahead trick that will add a healthy dose of veggies to your favorite dishes this season.

Mushroom Tacos with Salsa Verde

Before you read another word, let’s address your biggest food fears. Surrendering taste, enjoyment and a full belly often top the list. Luckily, I am here to share great news! These tips don’t require you to spend all day in the kitchen. Yay! Sit back, relax and I’ll show you five easy and nutritious ingredients to “just add in” for a sneak-attack approach to good health.

Everyone wants to eat healthy, but not everyone has heard that great taste, satisfaction, a full belly and good health can co-exist. One of the secrets I share with my patients and readers is that adding in vegetables can really improve the nutrition profile of a dish without sacrificing taste. Adding veggies in place of some or all of the fat can also help lower calories. But for today’s example, this is simply about adding in veggies without kicking any other ingredient to the curb. Whether you choose to tell anyone of your master plan, that’s completely up to you – your secret is safe with me.

What you need to get started:

  • A blender or food processor.
  • Canned beans
  • Fresh frozen or canned spinach
  • Fresh mushrooms
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • An ice cube tray
  • Water or vegetarian chicken broth

Final Product: Five different veggie cubes that make a simple addition to just about any dish.

1. Mushrooms: You really get a culinary and health 2-for-1 out of this veggie. Mushrooms add a nice savory flavor and volume with very little calories. Don’t even get me started on the added value of vitamin D, selenium and cholesterol-lowering beta-glucans.

Procedure: Add cleaned raw or cooked mushrooms to a blender or food processor add a splash of water or broth to make a thick liquid after blending. The idea here is to add just enough liquid to make it pourable. When blended to the right consistency, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Add it to: Soups, sauces, gravies, dips, taco meat, chili, risotto, ground meat and more.

2. Spinach: This veggie gives you the most bang for the nutrition buck compared to any other leafy green. It’s an excellent source of 12 nutrients including calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin C.

Procedure: Add cleaned raw or cooked spinach to a blender or food processor and add a splash of water or broth to make a thick liquid after blending. When blended to the right consistency, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Add it to: Soups, sauces, dips, smoothies, dressings, taco meat, chili, risotto, ground meat and more.

3. Beans: Loaded with protein, fiber, b-vitamins and iron as well as a host of other nutrients.

Procedure: Add canned or cooked to a blender or food processor and add a splash of water or broth to make a thick liquid after blending. When blended to the right consistency, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Add it to: Soups, sauces, dips, dressings, taco meat, chili, risotto and more.

4. Sweet Potato: This sweet veggie is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, C and potassium.

Procedure: Add cooked, peeled sweet potatoes to a blender or food processor add a splash of water or broth to make a thick liquid after blending. When blended to the right consistency, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Add it to: Mac & cheese, soups, sauces, dips, oatmeal, brownies, smoothies, dressings, chili, ground meat and more.

5. Winter Squash: Pumpkin, acorn, butternut, spaghetti or any other variety fit into this category. Winter squashes are a terrific source of nutrients such as beta carotene, fiber, iron and magnesium.

 Procedure: Add cooked or canned squash to a blender or food processor add a splash of water or broth to make a thick liquid after blending. When blended to the right consistency, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

 Add it to: Mac & cheese, soups, sauces, dips, oatmeal, brownies, smoothies, dressings, chili, ground meat and more.


Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Rather than tossing mushrooms into your next pasta, infuse them directly into your sauce with this versatile recipe from Bell’alimento

Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce by Bell’alimento

This creamy mushroom sauce is a mushroom lover’s dream sauce, but it’s also a cook’s dream since it comes together in about 10 minutes time and is incredibly versatile. Similar to the texture of alfredo, it’s best served over any long pasta you have on hand such as pappardelle or egg noodles. It’s simply a perfect sauce to have in your repertoire.

The sauce is not only delicious tossed with perfectly cooked al dente pasta; it’s fantastic as a topping for pork chops or chicken. Don’t forget the bread because you’ll want to sop up every drop of this creamy concoction.

Baby bella mushrooms add an earthy undertone to the sauce but feel free to substitute white buttons or your favorite mushroom variety.

Versatile and delicious? Yes please.

Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Serves 4


  • 1 pound pappardelle pasta
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ onion – minced
  • 1 clove garlic – smashed
  • 8 ounces whole baby bella mushrooms – stems removed and minced, mushroom caps quartered
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – grated


1. Place a large pot of generously salted water onto boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water. Drain pasta. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and minced mushroom stems. Cook for approximately 5-6 until softened. Stir as necessary.

3. Add mushroom caps, cream and season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking additional 4-5 minutes.

4. Add cheese and drained pasta. Stir to combine. If sauce is too thick add some of the reserved pasta water.

5. Garnish with additional cheese if desired.