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. Simply 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:
For 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:
Use 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.
The Blend in American ClassicsMushroom Chipotle ChiliMushroom 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. You 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. The 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.
The Blend in Italian CuisineMushroom Pasta SauceMushroom Meatballs with Harrissa Aioli From 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. Using 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. When you make a ground-meat dish from the Mediterranean, consider what mushrooms can add. A few thoughts:
Mushroom Chipotle ChiliMushroom Tacos Can 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. In 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. The 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:
The Blend in Asian CuisineSzechuan Mushroom Stir Fry Using 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. If 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:
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.)The 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:
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.
Portobella mushrooms are a mature cremini. The growing period is just 3
to 7 days longer, as a result ports development a larger cap.