10 Mushroom Recipes for Meaty Plant-Based Cooking
It’s easy to forget about mushrooms. It’s a humble ingredient, often taking the role of supporting actor in pastas, soups, stews, and side dishes. But don’t overlook mushrooms, or you run the risk of missing out on one of nature’s most complex, versatile, and surprising foods.
First, mushrooms are incredibly healthy; they’re low in calories, fat- and cholesterol-free, and contain nearly no sodium. They’re also a great source of B vitamins and are excellent sources of antioxidants, like selenium, which help protect the body from cell damage, supports the immune system, thyroid functions, and our reproduction. Mushrooms are easy on the planet, too, contributing only a small fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to meat and other animal products. One study showed that you can grow as much as 1 million pounds of mushrooms on just 1 acre of land.
But besides being healthy and sustainable, mushrooms are also delicious. In your average supermarket, you may find nearly a dozen different types of mushrooms, each with its own unique properties. White button mushrooms have a mild flavor that intensifies when cooked or sautéed; cremini mushrooms take well to roasting, and have a deep earthy taste that adds a heartiness to dishes; Portobello mushrooms are a larger relative of the cremini with a tough texture that makes them ideal candidates for the grill; shiitake mushrooms are excellent sources of umami (a savory, meaty flavor) and perfect for flavoring soups and stews or providing a meaty chew to stir fries.
And the list goes on…But a lot of the fun of cooking with mushrooms is experimenting with different varieties and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Mushrooms are excellent sources of umami — one of the five basic tastes that gives foods a decadent, savory flavor. Because of their natural meatiness and hearty chew, they can often take the place of red meat in dishes like stews, braises, and sauces. This Monday, don’t be shy when cooking fungi.
Quick Cooking Tips
- Salt mushrooms after cooking to avoid having them simmer in their own liquids
- Always wash mushrooms whole. Give them a quick dunk in a bowl of water and scrub for no longer than 10-15 seconds, then lay out for an hour or until dry.
- Don’t be afraid to use oil and a hot pan (medium-high heat). Mushrooms will absorb oil and leach out liquid as they cook. Make sure the liquid totally evaporates before turning off the stove.
- Resist the temptation to stir frequently. Let the mushrooms brown completely on each side before stirring.
- Don’t cut too thin. Mushrooms get smaller as they release their juices. Aim for half-inch pieces for stews, soups, and stir-fries.
Inspired by Hungarian and Romanian flavors, this mushroom recipe uses a variety of Eastern European spices and aromatics such as coriander, caraway seeds, fresh dill, and sweet paprika. As the mushrooms cook in a hot skillet, they release some liquid, creating a natural sauce that’s heavily seasoned and perfect to drizzle over toast or pasta.
Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese
Cooked together, mushroom and lentils make an excellent alternative to meaty Bolognese. Fresh herbs, chopped aromatics, and a simple tomato sauce create a lighter version of this typically rustic pasta dish.
Meaty Mushroom Stew over Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Perfect for vegetarians and meat eaters alike, this meaty mushroom stew over garlic mashed potatoes is a hearty dish with deep, earthy flavors. The different varieties of mushrooms provide pops of umami and a pleasantly chewy texture. Ladle a scoop over creamy garlic mashed potatoes and serve with a side salad and maybe a glass of red wine.
For the Meaty Mushroom Stew over Garlic Mashed Potatoes recipe, click here.
Mini Mushroom Burgers
When it’s time for a cookout, it’s always a good idea to have some plant-based burger recipes in your repertoire. Mushrooms, particularly big Portobellos, serve as an excellent alternative to beef because they can stand up to the heat of the grill, while absorbing all that charred, fiery flavor. A slice of tomato and red onion round things out.
Miso, Walnut, Mushroom Brown Rice
Any combination of miso, walnuts, and mushrooms is bound to be satisfying and delicious. This dish is basically like a stir-fry, but the miso-based sauce, which also includes fresh ginger, chile sauce, and tamari, adds another dimension of umami that’ll make you want to go in for another bite. The mushrooms and roasted broccoli florets add some extra heft to this plant-based dinner.
Mixed Mushroom Soup
Mushrooms impart an earthy, woodsy flavor to soups, adding a complexity and mouthwatering savoriness. The base of this recipe is a mixture of fresh mushrooms, but the broth is enriched by the addition of an ounce of dried porcinis. Shallots, red wine, and fresh thyme further develop the flavor of this cozy comfort food.
For the Mixed Mushroom Soup recipe, click here.
From Alicia Walter of Eataly’s La Scuola.
Pulled Mushroom Baos
Bao buns are soft, steamed pockets of dough, typically filled with vegetables or animal protein, that end up looking a bit like a taco. Using oyster mushrooms instead of meat preserves the meaty chew that pairs well with the squishy bao bun. The mushrooms are seasoned with traditional Chinese ingredients, such as tamari, ginger, and rice wine vinegar, and are served with a refreshing slaw. The recipe below also includes steps to make your own bao buns from scratch!
Red Enchilada Stacks with Spicy Roasted Mushrooms
Save yourself the stress of rolling enchiladas with this user-friendly recipe for red enchilada stacks. The spicy roasted mushrooms absorb the piquant flavors of the cherry peppers, chipotle purée, red pepper flake, and chili seasoning — we weren’t kidding when we said spicy. Just layer tortilla and filling until you have a nice tower of sauce-dipped goodness.
Vegan Air-Fried “Oysters”
People crave fried oysters because they’re that ideal balance of crisp and chew. This recipe from Kevin Curry, founder of Fit Men Cook, and Meatless Monday Culinary Ambassador, recreates the textural characteristics of an oyster by using oyster mushrooms. They’re a nice appetizer to serve with a light summer meal.
Vegan Creamy Mushroom Pasta
Mushrooms and pasta are a power couple that will come to dominate your weekly dinner planning. Although there are endless variations of pasta-mushroom combinations, this recipe is unique in that it uses shiitake mushrooms, chile flake, and a blonde beer to create its decadent plant-based sauce.
Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.