Mushrooms make my day!

In my kitchen, I always make room for mushrooms. As far as ingredients go – they rule!  For starters, they’re one of the most versatile ingredients that can be reimagined in a variety of dishes, either as ensemble players or the star of the show. 

And Canada is home to to one of the most substantial varieties of mushrooms – each infused with delicate layers of umami flavour. 

Mushrooms are available year-round in Canada, according to the Canadian Mushroom Growers’ Association, adding they’re also fat-free, low in calories and contain a variety of nutrients.

According to Mushrooms Canada ( “mushrooms have been used both as food and as medicine in many cultures, and their popularity in both is growing.”

Ontario product more than 50% of all mushrooms in Canada. 

And don’t forget dried mushrooms, too, as they pack a wallop of flavour when rehydrated and added to dishes you love. Dried mushrooms are known for their ultrafiche umami effect on the palate, not to mention their meaty mouth-feel.

I love them in a beautiful mushroom risotto, with seared scallops on top. Of course I can’t have pizza without mushrooms, or egg omelettes or pasta dishes, soups, snacks, dips – the list is endless!

My fave are porcini mushrooms – they have a nice, meaty texture. Sometimes I sauté a bunch and keep them handy to layer sandwiches, or sides with chicken, steak, heck even fish!

You can incorporate them into any meal of the day – they cook up fast and delicious. Here’s a variety of recipes that are excellent any day of the week, any season of the year.


Mushrooms bruise easily and can be considered more delicate than an egg. To keep them fresh, store in a brown paper bag and use as soon as possible. Just before using, gently dust off any dirt with a soft brush or a damp cloth.


This has to be the most easiest dish around – I used to watch my mom make it, and she’d tell me to keep the mushrooms simple with just the trilogy of the Italian kitchen: Garlic, parsley and olive oil. I add a bit more garlic than my mom would recommend – she had a bit of a fussy palate. On occasion I’d add some sage and hot chilli peppers for drama, but it would alter the taste of my mom’s, which I miss to this day.

Seriously, once you sauté a bunch of these, keep them handy to add to omelettes or toss in a pasta dish!

1 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned, sliced or quartered (your preference)

2-3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 chopped finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tsp. hot chill flakes (optional, more to taste)

Salt/black pepper to taste

In a large frypan, heat olive oil and sauté garlic, parsley and chilli flakes. Add in mushrooms and toss to coat. Watch carefully as mushrooms will start releasing their liquid. Salt/pepper to taste. Once all water is released, mushrooms are ready.


If you’re making pasta, boil a large pot of salted water and toss in 1/2 lb. linguini or fettuccini pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup boiling water and set aside.

When pasta is ready, toss into large fry pan holding mushrooms. Carefully toss, adding some of the reserved pasta water to thin out sauce. Continue tossing. Toss in 3/4 cup grated Fontina cheese until well coated. Garnish with additional chopped parsley. Serve immediately.


Quite simply, Oyster mushrooms are awesome – full of texture and meaty flavour. I adapted this fabulous dish, which mimics a pulled pork sandwich, from a Washington Post recipe. Serves 4.  

1 lb. King oyster mushrooms

3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce or tamarind

2 Tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2. tsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. dark molasses

1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 clove garlic, mashed

Pinch fine sea salt

4 buns

Favourite coleslaw 

Pull tines of fork down length of each mushroom to shred it, breaking up head with your fingers, if needed. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add shredded mushrooms and toss well to coat

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat remaining olive oil until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they release their liquid. Let liquid evaporate and watch carefully as mushroom mixture will start to brown nicely and stick, about 10-15 minutes. 

Divide mixture into four buns, top with slaw and serve.


Keep this recipe handy for the fall, when it’s traditionally white truffle season in the Piedmont region of Italy! White truffles arrive in late fall and early winter, and restaurants in Europe as well as North America offer these precious, fragrant tubers “on the side” at a fixed price. If you can’t find white truffles at local food speciality shops, use a few drops of white truffle oil. I adapted this recipe from Saveur Cooks 

1/2 oz. dried porcini

1 cup hot water

3 cups chicken stock

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 large shallots, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

2 fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 cup carnaroli, arborio or other risotto rice

1/2 cup dry Italian white wine

1/2 lb. fresh wild mushrooms (e.g. chanterelles, porcini), cleaned and sliced

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh white truffle shavings or a few drops of truffle oil

Soak dried porcini in hot water for 30 minutes. Remove porcini and reserve liquid. Rinse porcini thoroughly, drain well, chop coarsely and set aside. Strain liquid through a fine sieve or coffee filter and set aside.

In a medium pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and keep stock warm over low heat.

Heat butter  and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and sage and cook, stirring occasionally until shallots are translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly until lightly toasted and coated with butter, about 5 minutes.

Add wine and cook until absorbed, stirring constantly about 3 minutes. Stir in all mushrooms, including reserved dried porcini, along with porcini liquid and 1/2 cup stock. Maintaining a simmer, cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is almost absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes. Continue adding stock, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until rice is tender but firm to bite, and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes.

Remove risotto from heat, stir in Parmigiano, season to taste and serve immediately. Shave white truffles directly onto risotto at table. If not serving truffles, blend in a few drops of truffle oil before dividing up rice in separate bowls.