Mushrooms haven’t always been a favorite food of mine. But, after learning about their many nutritional qualities I decided to give them another try. Turns out they are pretty awesome. Having run out of spinach and needing an additional side for dinner, I decided to do a combo of my two kitchen favorites. Favorite spice – sumac. Favorite cooking method – roasting and so this delicious recipe was created.
FUN FACT: Eating mushrooms or fungi is known as mycophagy
Before we get into the recipe, let’s take a moment and talk about the amazing qualities of mushrooms. Mushrooms are entrenched in human history as far back as the paleolithic age and have almost always been known for their medicinal qualities. The Egyptians of old believed they had powers of immortality and commoners weren’t even allowed to touch them(i). Mushrooms were also known as ‘sons of gods’ as there were no seeds and no one could figure out how they propagated.
The Dark Side of Mushrooms
Of course you cannot talk about mushrooms and leave out a very important point – some of them are deadly! Over the era’s there were many accounts of entire families succumbing to the poisons of incorrectly identified mushrooms being added to their meal. You would think we would be very hesitant to go out and pick wild mushrooms, think again. In the Czech Republic it is an unofficial sport and it’s estimated that around 70% of the population are annual mushroomers (pickers)(ii). If you aren’t from the Czech Republic mushroomed hall of fame, it is probably best that you leave picking wild mushrooms be done by someone in the know.
What Kind of Mushroom
Our ancestors may have attributed the mushrooms godly origins based on superstition and simplistic beliefs, but with modern science we have come to understand just how powerful they are. There are many different types of mushrooms and each have varying degrees of health benefits, however most of us are familiar with the small brown, white or cremini mushrooms commonly referred to as button mushrooms. These technically or botanically speaking are in the same family and because they are so common let’s focus on what they bring to the table nutritionally.
Button mushrooms are an excellent source of minerals which are very important to our bodies. We use dietary minerals for the growth and maintenance of our bones, tissues and cells. Without healthy levels of minerals in our bodies we may not be able to utilise vitamins correctly. Some minerals are only required in small quantities known as trace minerals and others are required in larger quantities.
Button mushrooms have selenium, copper, potassium and zinc making them a very healthy choice.
Mushrooms in general are a good source of vitamin B which is good news. Vitamin B’s are linked to our levels of energy, brain and cell health. B Vitamins are water soluble and need to be replenished regularly, so adding a few mushrooms to your meals are a great boost. Button mushrooms in particular have Vitamin B1, B2, B3 & B5.
Plants use phytochemical to protect themselves against various elements and predators. You would think that phyto = fight, but it is actually Greek for plant. These plant’ chemicals are most notably known for their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help us fight free radicals that can cause cancer. There are a growing number of anticancer studies using mushrooms that are showing a great deal of promise(iv).
So, again, once I realized what a powerhouse the fungi family was I had no choice but to rethink my aversion to mushrooms. It took a little getting used to, but spicing and roasting them made them simply irresistible!
Salty Sumac Roasted Mushrooms
- Roasting Pan
- 250 g portabellini mushrooms
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp sumac spice
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- heat oven to 180˚C
- while oven is heating, wipe mushrooms (stem included) clean – do not wash with water as this will cause too much moisture
- place in roasting tray and drizzle with oil, make sure the mushrooms are evenly coated, use extra if necessary, avoid drenching in oil
- sprinkle with salt, pepper and sumac and mix with a spatula until mushrooms are roughly coated
- place in oven and bake for 30 minutes
- remove and serve
- (i) Abdel-Azeem, Ahmed & Abdel Azeem, Mohamed & Blanchette, Robert & Mohesien, Marwa & Salem, Fatma. (2016). The Conservation of Mushroom in Ancient Egypt through the Present.
- (ii) 16, KytkaMarch, et al. “Edible Wild Mushrooms.” Everything Czech | by Tres Bohemes, 30 May 2018, www.tresbohemes.com/2016/03/edible-wild-mushrooms/.
- (iii) “Mushrooms, Crimini.” Mushrooms, Crimini, www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=97.
- (iv) Chen, Shiuan & Oh, Sei-Ryang & Phung, Sheryl & Hur, Gene & Ye, Jing & Kwok, Sum & Shrode, Gayle & Belury, Martha & Adams, Lynn & Williams, Dudley. (2007). Anti-Aromatase Activity of Phytochemicals in White Button Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Cancer research. 66. 12026-34. 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-06-2206.