Mushrooms are not a vegetable. “Are Mushrooms a Vegetable?” is something I hear all the time. Mushrooms are not even a plant. Mushrooms are a fungi. However, if you ask the USDA, they’ll tell you mushrooms are classified as a vegetable. If you look at what defines a vegetable, you’ll find that vegetables need sunlight to grow.. they have leaves.. and roots. I don’t remember mushrooms having any of those things and mushrooms certainly don’t need sunlight to grow. Many people get stuck on a definition of a vegetable as “edible plant parts” and then group mushrooms in. Fruits are “edible plant parts” too but mushrooms certainly aren’t fruits.
Are mushrooms considered a vegetable or a meat when cooking?
Turns out, this is one of those “depends on who you ask” type of questions. For culinary purposes, mushrooms should be considered a vegetable. Many cooks just throw the mushrooms in with their vegetables to cook but mushrooms can be cooked separately in another pan just as easily if you’re going for a specific texture on the mushrooms.
The problem for some people happens because mushrooms are used as a meat replacement in many recipes. Not to mention, that umami flavor that mushrooms bring to the palate almost feels and tastes.. “meaty”.. so you can understand some of the confusion. As a general rule of thumb, the longer you cook your mushrooms, the more water you are cooking (evaporating) out of the mushrooms.
As you saute your mushrooms they will shrink in size as the water leaves. Roasting your mushrooms will see a similar shrinkage but not as severe as sauteing. Cooking mushrooms in soup might see them bloom in size a bit.
Are mushrooms considered Vegan?
Yes, mushrooms are considered vegan. There I said it. It needed to be said and I was there to do it. Without getting into a dispute over what constitutes a real vegan or what is a vegetarian, consider the same question against “honey” or maybe anything made with “yeast”. Are they vegan too? Are mushrooms alive? Are fungi living things? My own thoughts on the subject.. I believe a vegetarian to be someone who doesn’t consume food that comes from animals, (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products).
Vegans will sometimes make distinctions and food choices that expand to a lifestyle. Do you think the honey bee is exploited? Then you’d have something in common with the vegan who doesn’t eat honey because of their personal stand against animal exploitation. Generally speaking, most people consider mushrooms vegan simply because they’re not meat. I know the arguments for and against these ideas (on both sides) and I’m not here to debate the subject. The general consensus among many vegan communities is that mushrooms are fine to eat.
Do mushrooms have as much nutrition as vegetables?
Yes and even more than vegetables. There’s much more nutrition than you think. An article at the National Library of Medicine, shows mushrooms beat the nutrition levels on many vegetables.
Outperforming on fiber, potassium, Vitamin D (when raised with ultraviolet light), and a protein punch that can’t be beat in many veggies. Cremini mushrooms are loaded with Zinc, which helps the immune system. Vitamins and minerals such as iron, Copper, B Vitamins, and antioxidants to round it out. I like to call mushrooms “Nutritionally Dense”. When you combine the nutritional benefits and the low calories, you have a “superfood” in my opinion. One cup of Cremini mushrooms comes in at 16 calories.. WHAT? I personally add them to my diet for their anti-inflammatory properties.
What vegetables go well with mushrooms?
The kind of mushroom makes a difference when pairing them with anything. You should be tasting and developing a preference. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume we’re talking about Button Mushrooms.
Virtually any vegetables will go good when paired with mushrooms. Asparagus, garlic, peppers, onions, tomatoes, scallions, green beans, carrots, brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, fennel, and radish to name a few. Mix them all together or served them separately, mushrooms should compliment any vegetable or main dish to be quite frank. It’s a matter of personal preference but generally speaking, whatever vegetable you already like will go well when cooking with mushrooms.
I haven’t had a complaint about any pairing of vegetables to mushrooms to be quite honest. Sure, I could get into some nuances between some strong mushrooms like a portobello and some light vegetables like baby spinach, but some people like a strong mushroom to overpower their spinach when mixed while others don’t. I don’t mind either way. Don’t forget nuts. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, chestnuts, cashews, and even peanuts go well with mushrooms. Give them a try.
What herbs and spices are used for cooking mushrooms?
Mushrooms take well to a whole litany of herbs and spices. Tarragon, cilantro, clove, parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, basil, chives rosemary, cinnamon, turmeric, chinese 5 spice, garam masala, coriander, cumin, black pepper, marjoram, dill, oregano, and ANY curry powder. I could go on and the list is long.
For me, any herbs and spices that I already like with vegetables or meat seem to go quite well with mushrooms. The important thing for me is to use herbs and spices that compliment each other. Tarragon, chives and parsley are good mix I like to play with. Mince some garlic in there and you’re golden. Don’t skimp on the olive oil if you’re sauteing.
Remember you’re looking for yummy brown crispy edges for a saute on the mushrooms and saute means high heat. Roast your mushrooms with other vegetables like quartered onions and garlic cloves to avoid the use of garlic and onion powder. Softer herbs will let the “earthy” umami flavor of your mushrooms come through.
What meats go well with mushrooms?
The kind of mushroom you use will make a difference when pairing them with any meat. You should be tasting and developing a preference. Try several varieties of mushrooms. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume we’re talking about Button Mushrooms.
Chicken, beef, lamb, bacon, seafood, pork, veal, and whatever other meat you want to pair with them. As with vegetables, virtually any meat will go well with mushrooms. While it’s a matter of taste, the flavor of mushrooms should compliment any meat. There are many recipes that include mushrooms with many varieties of meat to include seafood and wild game as well.
Many people find that the heartier the mushroom, the more flavors it can stand up against, so don’t be afraid to add mushrooms to wild game like venison, elk, or antelope. Don’t be afraid to try different edible mushrooms. Mushrooms certainly don’t all taste the same with some dynamic umami flavors blending in, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different varieties of mushrooms. There’s more than just button, cremini, and portobello.
Can you wash mushrooms like vegetables?
I wash my mushrooms with clean fresh water EVERY time. You’ll find people who swear by not washing them and others who’ll never eat a mushroom unless it’s been washed. With that said, the whole argument should tell you that there is no definitive right way. If you don’t want to wash them or rinse them with clean water than using a brush or dry cloth is perfectly fine.
The reason many people don’t like washing the mushrooms is because they believe the mushrooms get water logged or saturated with water.. or they don’t taste as “earthy”. I have never found this to be the case and I normally let the mushrooms completely dry after rinsing before I cook them anyway. I wash them because if you eat a lot of mushrooms and you don’t clean them… you eventually know what “grit” is no matter how well you brush them.
Washing or brushing your mushrooms is a preference. One that is enjoyed by many people no matter what side of the argument you’re on so try your mushrooms both ways to find your own personal preference.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of nutrition with a low calorie signature. Find a way to add them to your diet as vegetables. They can be served whole, chunks, slices and chopped into tiny bits too. I usually will grate mushrooms with a box grinder and add them to ground meat. There’s so many ways to add them and experiment you’ll lose track.. so have fun at it.