Mushrooms are having a moment. Not only is Liv Sisson’s book about Aotearoa's fascinating and freaky fungi storming up the best-seller charts, but mushrooms are one of just two vegetables among the chosen consumables in a supermarket price freeze.
Fruit and vegetable marketer Glenn Forsyth told Nathan Rarere earlier this week that white button mushrooms sell "by the bucketload" in winter. The good news is, they're good for you.
"You could eat mushrooms daily if you wish... they're incredibly healthy and contain many of the nutrients our bodies need to function well."
While wild mushrooms tend to disappear with the first frosts, cultivated or farmed mushrooms are omnipresent in supermarkets and vegetable shops. What to do with them? RNZ’s recipe archives are full of fungi treasure.
Wellington chef and keen forager Jacob Brown shared this simple recipe for Tagliolini with Mushrooms and Lemon (lemons are also plentiful and cheap right now, making this a reasonably economical dish).
Having eaten some grim mushroom soups in my time, I wholeheartedly endorse Lois Daish’s comment that good real mushroom soup is as elusive as the perfect chocolate cake. Here’s her version, packed with lots of Portobello ‘shrooms and a tiny touch of Marmite.
If something a bit more rib-sticking is required, Julie Biuso has just the ticket: an Oven-Baked Mushroom Risotto (no tedious stirring required, the oven does most of the work).
For a similar vibe from a completely different continent, try Connie Clarkson’s Claypot Rice, which matches mushrooms with chewy Chinese dried sausage (the sort you find in sticky rice at yum char).
Julie also has a recipe for a cracking Chicken and Mushroom Pie (what is winter, if not an excuse to eat all the pies?)
I’m personally of the opinion that going out for brunch is hideously over-rated, but I wouldn’t say no to staying in and eating Jess Daniell’s caramelised onion, mushroom and chorizo Brunch Pizza (especially if someone else had cooked it).
If having people over for lunch is more your thing, Allyson Gofton’s Mushroom and Mozzarella Tart is one of those recipes that will make you look like a more talented cook than you really are. No one will know you didn't make the pastry, but it might be a stretch convincing them that you made the mozzarella.
Alternatively, you could whip up Nadia Lim's Pulled Mushroom Tacos for a bit of interactive dining fun (please note, this is not a dish for people who can't be parted from their phone - you'll need two hands unless you want to risk losing a taco down your front).
Dinner guests over the weekend? Treat them to Kelly Gibney’s Beef and Mushroom Stew, which has the most heavenly topping of sourdough croutons, fried onions and cheese. I mean, look at it!
Lastly, button mushrooms might be cheapish at the moment but that’s no reason to waste the stems. Make like Megan May and turn them and the rest of your vegetable scraps into a nourishing broth or stock.
You'll feel like a saint, you'll be saving money and your taste buds will thank you. Few culinary experiences are more magic than that.