Contrary to what you may think, mushrooms are not actually plants but fungi. Plants need sunlight to grow but mushrooms don’t. In fact, mushrooms grow in the strangest of places—underground, on tree roots, or on tree barks. One thing all mushrooms have in common though, may they be Japanese, American, or Italian mushrooms. And that is they love moisture. In fact, according to mushroom farmers, these fungi are about 90% water.
Now, cooking with mushrooms is quite easy, especially if they’re fresh. And they’re quite versatile, too. You can grill, steam, fry, bake, or stew them. They’re also quite delicious additions to all kinds of dishes. You can even preserve them, to be cooked and consumed at a later date.
Which Italian mushrooms have you had the privilege of munching on? Below are some of the most famous ones you can find in the wild and in supermarkets. Check out if your favorite ones are there!
Porcini mushrooms, which are also known as boletus, are among the most highly valued among Italian mushrooms. It has an aromatic woodsy flavor and its meat has a smooth texture. They can be bought dried or preserved in olive oil. If you buy the dried ones, you have to soak them in hot water first before cooking. One yummy recipe you can use porcini mushrooms is in a risotto dish.
One of the most common mushrooms in Europe and North America, this mushroom goes by so many names. When it is young, its colors are often white and brown and it’s called crimini or cremini. Other names you may have also encountered are button mushrooms and champignon mushrooms. However, when it’s matured, it is commonly known as Portobello. It is one of the most common mushrooms used in Italian dishes, especially pasta and pizza.
Sometimes mistaken for porcini, russula mushroom varies in color. Its cap can be creamy white with a brownish center, light brown, or bright red. Unlike porcini, however, it is often hard. When it’s cooked in oil, it becomes tastefully crunchy. This not so popular fungus can be great with seafood such as shrimps or prawns, or a yummy addition to salads.
Usually in a cluster that consists of small dark brown caps, Velvet Pioppini kind of looks like a miniature bouquet of mushrooms. It has an intense woodsy flavor that can be perfect for a variety of dishes. Use them in pasta or savory red meat dishes.
Another popular edible mushroom is the Chantarelle. Its cap is golden yellow with a wavy edge and visible gills. Its flavorful scent is reminiscent of fruits such as peaches or apricots. They can be great in stews or soups.
Another thing about these fascinating fungi are that not all of them are edible. So yes, you can got the woods and gather wild mushrooms yourself. However, if you’re not certain whether the mushrooms you find are safe to eat or not, then better err in the side of caution. Simply don’t take the risk and opt for buying them from your local famers.
So have you cooked with wild or farmed mushrooms before? Which of the Italian mushrooms below have you cooked with?