• Recipes

    The Blend - How to Make a Mushroom & Meat Blend

    If you're a parent, chances are you want your kids to eat better. (Translation: more vegetables.) Maybe you'd like to eat better yourself. And probably you don't mind saving money.

    Think of mushrooms as the stealth ingredient that makes all these goals achievable. You can sneak more nutrition, produce and flavor into your everyday meals... and trim your food budget, too. 

    Blend It:
    Thanks to "the blend" of mushrooms, you can make any favorite ground-meat recipe more healthful. Meatloaf, lasagna, pasta sauce, meatballs. 6-_mushroom_and_meat_smallSimply replace some of the ground meat—beef, pork, chicken, turkey—with finely chopped cooked mushrooms, which blend in seamlessly. Even finicky eaters won't object to this under-the-radar addition, which instantly reduces fat, calories and cholesterol while boosting juiciness and flavor. Adventuresome diners will applaud your creativity.

    You can use any variety of mushrooms and any type of ground meat. Make a ground pork, fresh ginger and shiitake blend for meatballs. A ground beef and portabella blend for burgers. A sausage and crimini blend for pasta sauce or pizza.

    Herbs and spices can take your blend in new directions:

    • Add chipotle chiles and cilantro for a taco or burrito filling.
    • Add toasted cumin and mint to a mushroom-lamb filling for pita; drizzle with yogurt.
    • Add oregano and fennel seed to a mushroom-pork blend for lasagna.


    Swap It:

    chermoula-grilled-creminikabobsFor even greater benefits, venture beyond the Blend. In the Swap, mushrooms take the protein role and ground meat gets a rest. Grill whole-mushroom kebabs, make a mushroom Bolognese sauce for pasta, or tuck a grilled portabella in a hamburger bun with grilled onions and aioli. When you swap mushrooms for meat, you make a heart-healthy switch that stretches your food budget, too. 

    Top It:

    grilled-portobello-caesar-saladUse mushrooms to help you achieve that elusive five-a-day produce target. Top a chicken breast with sizzling sautéed mushrooms. Customize a take-out pizza with sautéed oyster mushrooms. Or dial back the bacon and add sliced button mushrooms to a spinach salad. When you top a dish with mushrooms, you chalk up another vegetable serving.

    Mushroom Makeover: American Classics

    10-_american_classics_(8294)_smallThe Blend in American Classics
    Mushroom Chipotle Chili
    Mushroom Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy 

    The easy weekday recipes that many of us rely on—and the ones our kids crave—are often the very dishes that pack on the pounds. Call them comfort foods if you like, but most burgers, chili, meatloaf and casseroles have uncomfortably high levels of fat, sodium, calories and cholesterol. 

    14-_meatloaf_(8252)_smallYou can fix that. With a well-seasoned blend of sautéed mushrooms and meat, you can easily make family favorites more wholesome. No sacrifice, no suffering. In fact, chopped mushrooms blend so seamlessly with ground meat that your dinner-table "regulars" may not notice the switch. And the ones who do notice will want seconds. 

    Take a mental inventory of the all-American recipes in your repertoire. Which ones rely heavily on ground meat? A lot of them, probably. Maybe you make sloppy Joes for your kids on occasion, or your cousin's prize-winning chili. Meat loaf, spaghetti sauce, crispy tacos. Replace half the meat with an equal volume of chopped sautéed mushrooms and you rack up the benefits. The mushrooms make the dish juicier, more flavorful, more economical and certainly healthier. 

    sloppyjoeThe blend makes it possible to serve these American classics more often, knowing that your family is getting a more nutritious meal. You can use any variety of mushrooms with any type of ground meat, so unleash your creativity.

    • Blend ground pork with sautéed crimini mushrooms for spaghetti sauce. Add sautéed or roasted bell peppers.
    • Blend ground turkey with sautéed portabella mushrooms for a quesadilla filling. Sprinkle with shredded jack cheese, fold and fry. Top with avocado and salsa.
    • For a party, make ground beef and mushroom "sliders" with aioli. Look for mini buns at well-stocked supermarkets.
    • Make a sausage and mushroom blend. Combine with rice for stuffed green peppers.

    Mushroom Makeover: Cruising the Mediterranean

    The Blend in Italian Cuisine
    Mushroom Pasta Sauce
    Mushroom Meatballs with Harrissa Aioli 

    mushroomflatbreadFrom Spain to Tunisia to Turkey, the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea have foodways that fascinate us. Rustic and robust, with extra virgin olive oil as the foundation and bold seasonings like red pepper, cumin and saffron, these varied cuisines have much in common—including a love for mushrooms. So it's no stretch to reinterpret some beloved Mediterranean dishes, like Italian meatballs and Greek moussaka, with "the blend" in mind. 

    mushroom-pastaUsing sautéed mushrooms to replace some of the meat makes these classic dishes fresh and exciting. It lowers the saturated fat and cholesterol and ups the produce quotient. And mushrooms are so meaty and high in umami that many people won't know there's meat missing. Bottom line: More flavor, better nutrition, lower cost. That's hitting a triple. 

    lasgna-slow-roastedWhen you make a ground-meat dish from the Mediterranean, consider what mushrooms can add. A few thoughts:

    • Try a ground beef and mushroom blend in Provençal stuffed vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant).
    • Make Greek moussaka and pastitsio with a ground lamb and mushroom blend.
    • Prepare an Italian frittata with a ground sausage and mushroom blend. Add sautéed red, green and yellow peppers for color.
    • Make arancine (Sicilian rice croquettes) with a ground beef and mushroom blend.
    • Stuff eggplants Turkish-style with a ground lamb and mushroom blend. Add pine nuts, tomato, mint.
    • Make a Moroccan meatball tagine. Use a blend of ground beef and mushrooms. Braise the meatballs in a tomato sauce with honey, paprika, cinnamon, black pepper and coriander.
    • Spread store-bought hummus on a platter. Sauté a blend of ground lamb and mushrooms; season with cumin and spoon over the hummus. Garnish with cilantro and toasted pine nuts. Serve with pita triangles.

    Mushroom Makeover: South of the Border

    Mushroom Chipotle Chili
    Mushroom Tacos 

    grilled-mushroom-quesadillasCan you say hongos? That's Spanish for mushrooms, and although many gringos don't know it, mushrooms play a big role in Mexican kitchens. Diana Kennedy, the bestselling author of Mexican cookbooks, has a whole chapter on mushroom dishes in her book, My Mexico. One of the recipes in that chapter, for Calabacitas con Hongos (zucchini with mushrooms, cheese and crème fraîche), is her "all-out favorite dish," she writes. 

    mushroom-vegetable-enchildadasIn Mexican dishes that call for ground meat, substituting a mushroom-meat blend makes sense. You save every which way: on calories, on fat, on cost. And you improve the dish's nutritional scorecard. Mushrooms contribute cholesterol-free protein, B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin, next-to-no calories and lots of juicy flavor. And because they resemble meat in color and texture, they won't raise alarms for any picky eaters who flinch at vegetables. If your kids ask what makes the tacos so tasty... well, what you reveal is up to you. 

    mushroomblendtacosThe blend gives you plenty of leeway to make a dish your own. Change the meat from ground beef to ground turkey. Mix with an equal volume of chopped sautéed mushrooms, using any type you like. Add Latin seasonings like toasted cumin, chipotle chile, oregano and cilantro. You're ready to roll. 

    Consider these ideas for family and friends:

    • Ditch the meat altogether and make a chopped mushroom filling for tacos and burritos. Add minced white onion, garlic, jalapeño chiles and tomatillos.
    • Blend chopped sautéed mushrooms with chorizo for a taco filling. Top with chopped white onion, cilantro and avocado salsa.
    • Make a mushroom-chorizo blend. Stir into scrambled eggs and serve with warm corn tortillas.
    • Prepare a mushroom-ground chicken blend for chiles rellenos.
    • Make mushroom-turkey tostadas: Top a crisp fried tortilla with a mushroom-turkey blend, shredded lettuce, sour cream, avocado, chopped tomato, cilantro and crumbled queso fresco.
    • Create a taco bar: Prepare two different mushroom-meat blends-maybe oyster mushrooms with chicken, and crimini mushrooms with pork-then set out bowls of sliced radishes, chopped white onion, sliced avocado, store-bought salsa, crumbled queso fresco, and lime wedges. Steam corn tortillas, then keep warm in a low oven.

    Mushroom Makeover: Mushrooms Go East

    The Blend in Asian Cuisine
    Szechuan Mushroom Stir Fry 

    portabellastir-fryUsing mushrooms as a meat replacement is second nature to most Asian cooks. From Japan to Southeast Asia to India, so many people eat a vegetarian diet that cooks excel at meatless meals. 

    In China and Japan, meaty shiitake mushrooms are a favorite. They add protein and a big, woodsy flavor to miso soup, vegetable stir-fries and ramen, making meat unnecessary. 

    mushroomwrapsIf you're an Asian food expert or enthusiast, you know how omnipresent mushrooms are in these cuisines. Less obvious, perhaps, is how easily you can "swap" mushrooms for meat to make a more healthful version of an Asian classic. A few ideas:

    • Thai-style green curry with button mushrooms, peas, coconut milk, Thai basil and green curry paste
    • Meatless pad Thai with shiitake mushrooms, rice noodles, tofu and bean sprouts
    • Japanese soba (buckwheat noodles) or ramen in broth with shiitake mushrooms and green onions
    • Miso soup with enoki mushrooms, tofu, green onions and ground sansho pepper
    • Chinese-style fried rice with shiitake mushrooms, eggs, leeks and cilantro
    • Mushroom masala: seared crimini mushrooms in a spicy tomato sauce with cumin, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and cilantro

    Your family's not ready to go meatless? Then meet the meat halfway. Mix ground pork, beef, chicken or turkey with an equal volume of chopped sautéed mushrooms. You won't miss the meat, but you will notice the savings-on calories, fat, cholesterol and dollars. Dishes will be juicier, moister and just as savory, thanks to the high umami level in mushrooms. (Not familiar with umami? Read more here.)

    lettucecupsThe blend—the ability to meld easily with meat—makes mushrooms the go-to ingredient if you're trying to eat smart. If you love Asian food, put mushrooms to work:

    • Blend chopped mushrooms and ground pork. Stir fry with fresh ginger, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil. Toss with Chinese egg noodles.
    • Blend chopped mushrooms and ground chicken. Make Vietnamese-style wraps with soft leaf lettuce, cool rice noodles, sautéed mushroom blend and fresh mint leaves. Provide a sweet-tart Vietnamese dipping sauce with lime juice and fish sauce.
    • Blend chopped mushrooms and ground beef. Make a Southern Indian curry with coconut milk, turmeric, cumin and cardamom. Add fresh curry leaves, if available.
    • Blend chopped mushrooms and ground turkey. Stir fry with chilies or chili paste, sesame oil and green beans. Try with Chinese long beans, if available.
  • Mushroom Fact
    FUN-GI FACT 6

    99.3% Of all restaurants that serve pizza, menu mushrooms. According to Datassential, mushrooms are the #3 most mentioned topping behind onions and tomatoes, but ahead of pepperoni. Fresh mushrooms add sophistication at a lower cost than many other gourmet items.

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  • Mushroom Fact
    FUN-GI FACT 7

    Portobella mushrooms are a mature cremini. The growing period is just 3 to 7 days longer, as a result ports development a larger cap.