Archive for February, 2014

The Blend Recognized as a Way to Transform School Lunches

Earlier this month the Mushroom Council was invited to serve mushroom blended products at the Vendor Showcase Lunch at School Food Focus. Council Representative, Kathleen Preis, was there to demonstrate how The Blend can transform school lunches.

The Mushroom Council could not have been more honored and grateful for the invitation to serve The Blend at School Food FOCUS at the beginning of the month. Being surrounded by other vendors who are working towards transforming food systems to support students’ academic achievement and lifelong health, while directly benefiting farmers, regional economies, and the environment was incredibly inspiring.

The Mushroom Council Booth
At our booth we sampled a delicious blended Shroom’n Turkey Meatloaf. Foodservice directors eagerly waited for samples; all the while noting how moist and flavorful the meatloaf was – attributing all these wonderful properties to The Blend. It’s amazing how mushrooms can instantly improve any dish they are paired with; that it’s no wonder why mushrooms have become a go-to ingredient for school foodservice directors.

Touring Oakland Unified School District
On the first day at School Food FOCUS we had the amazing opportunity to visit two schools in the Oakland Unified School District. Hosted by Jennifer LeBarre, the school foodservice director for OUSD, we visited the site of the central kitchen being planned for 2016, and learned the strategies being implemented to transform school food in the district. Hearing how dedicating city funds directly to the school foodservice program, and how quickly this massive project is not only being accomplished but supported, was inspirational.

After our central kitchen tour, we traveled to an East Oakland campus to eat lunch and experience “California Thursdays,” a collaborative project between Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and the Center for Ecoliteracy, which showcases dishes made from fresh, California-grown ingredients as part of the California Food for California Kids™ initiative.

School Food Focus Lunch

Hearing the elementary schools’ favorite meal from the “California Thursday” program was a tofu and noodle dish made me certain students would absolutely devour our mushroom recipes. Capping off the tour, we visited OUSD’s school produce market and a truly spectacular school garden.

School Food Focus Garden Tour

If there is anything we can learn for Jennifer and her talented team it’s that slowly introducing scratch cooking dishes to her students and staff can ease the acclimation process and increase acceptance.

Thank you to all the foodservice directors at School Food FOCUS who now recognize mushroom blendability as a realistic technique to transform school lunch at a large district level.

School Food FOCUS, is an collaborative effort funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and a growing number of sponsors, individuals, and private funders,  to make school meals nationwide more healthful, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced. FOCUS aims to transform food systems to support students’ academic achievement and lifelong health, while directly benefiting farmers, regional economies, and the environment.

A Sandwich for Every Occasion

From school lunch to dessert, a sandwich can take on many forms. A comforting grilled cheese is an essential classic, but when it comes to creating a decadent sandwich the possibilities are truly endless.  When you have a handful of mushrooms on hand, and you’re lacking a recipe to toss them into, we guarantee there is a simple sandwich solution from breakfast to dinner.

The beauty of creating a sandwich with mushrooms is that they can serve a variety of roles.  They can replace the meat altogether for a vegetarian option or replace a portion of meat creating a mushroom/meat blend that provides the best of both worlds.  Finally, you can get a double dose of mushrooms by replacing the bread altogether with two hearty portabellas.

Get started with some of our favorite combinations below, and get creative in the kitchen with your own sandwich creations.

  • Mushroom and Fontina Tartine – This tasty open-faced melt can be whipped up with a few basic ingredients that combine to create an amazing flavor.
  • Portabella and Halloumi Burgers – Summer might feel far away, but this Portabella and Halloumi “burger” is the perfect recipe to enjoy the taste of the season in the middle of winter.
  • Mushroom-Meatball Subs – Mushroom and meat blend together to create a better-for-you version in this meatball sub.
  • Butter Roasted Mushroom Sandwich –   Roasted mushrooms are full of flavor all on their own, but when you place them between two slices of bread with creamy cheese, you’re in for one gourmet bite.
  • Grilled Philly Cheese Mushroom Sandwich  – This classic regional treat gets a mushroom makeover with “meaty” portabellas as the filling.

Find more mushroom inspiration in our full recipe database!

Transform Mushrooms Into the Main Attraction

On hectic weeknights, quick and hearty meals are a must for busy families. Instead of racing through the preparation of an intricate dinner, seek a simpler road and kick your favorite side dish recipes up a notch by adding mushrooms. Most often, even the most humble of side dishes can become a savory main attraction when a few hearty mushrooms are added to the mix.

In addition to adding flavor and heartiness that can’t be beat, mushrooms provide a great alternative to meat in virtually any recipe. No defrosting necessary! Below are just a few ways to makeover “side dishes” into hearty, mushroom-filled meals:

  • Taco Salad – Mushrooms and meat blend together to create a savory filling in this better-for-you combo the entire family will gather around.
  • Couscous with Mushrooms and Herbs – With the help of some pantry staples, this hearty and filling couscous recipe is transformed into a standout dish thanks to the addition of mushrooms.
  • Mushroom Feta Quinoa Risotto – You won’t miss the meat in this vegetarian risotto! Accented by meaty mushrooms and feta cheese, this dish is hearty enough to shine on its own.
  • Grilled Mushroom Cobb Salad – The addition of grilled portabella mushrooms brings this traditional cobb salad from side to center stage of your dinner plate.
  • Rustic Mushroom Tart – A simple and savory mushroom tart makes a big impression and is hearty enough to be served as the main event.
  • Mushroom Brie Quesadillas with Mango Papaya Chutney – A mix of exotic flavors, these out of the ordinary quesadillas offer a twist on a simple dish and offers more than enough flavor to stand on their own.

For more Mushroom Makeover inspiration, check out our dedicated Mushroom Meal Makeovers for 2014 Pinterest board. How will mushrooms be spicing up your dinner?

Mushroom Bolognese

Cremini Mushroom Bolognese by A Cozy Kitchen

Adrianna of A Cozy Kitchen warms up your kitchen this winter with a blended Mushroom Bolognese that replaces a portion of ground beef with cremini mushrooms.

If there’s one dish I could eat every single day of my life, it would be bolognese. It is, in my opinion, the coziest of meals. There’s something incredibly comforting about eating a bowl of pasta topped with bolognese that’s been simmering on the stove for a few hours.

If you’re looking at a bolognese recipe and it doesn’t have carrots listed in the ingredients, run for the hills! The sweetness balances the acidity from the tomatoes so beautifully. In this bolognese, I wanted mushrooms and meat to complement each other, so I blended the two ingredients for a balanced ratio of 1 to 1. In this recipe, cremini mushrooms are the star. They work beautifully with the other flavors, creating a hearty meal that’s perfect for a chilly night.



Mushroom Bolognese


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium carrots, trimmed, peeled and diced

1 shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

5 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 pound ground beef or pork

6-8 cremini mushrooms, diced

1 24-ounce can diced or cherry San Marzano tomatoes

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan-Reggiano, plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Italian parsley, for garnish


1. To a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the diced carrots and minced shallots. Cook until the carrots and softened and the shallots turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, tomato paste and beef; using a wooden spoon, break up the beef into crumbles. Sprinkle the beef with a few pinches of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes, until the meat has browned.

2. Next, add the diced mushrooms and stir. Pour in the can of tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup (you can eyeball this measurement) of water to the tomato can, swishing it around so you get all of the remnants of tomato juice; pour the tomato water into the pot and stir. Bring the tomato sauce to a slight simmer and then turn the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. At the 20 minute mark, stir in the balsamic vinegar, Parmesan-Reggiano and splash or two of water, if it’s cooked down a bit too much. Cover the pot once more and cook for an additional 20 minutes, until the sauce is fragrant and has thickened slightly. If at any time the sauce becomes too thick, you can simply add a bit more tomato paste and 1/4 cup of water or veggie stock. Right before tossing with the pasta, add the butter and mix until melted.

3. Meanwhile, boil some salted water and cook the pasta per the box’s instructions. Toss the pasta with a few tablespoon of sauce and serve with a few spoonfuls of bolognese on top. Garnish with more Parmesan-Reggiano and sprinkle of Italian parsley.

Serves 4

Love is in the Air

Mushroom Risotto

Happy Valentine’s Day! From fresh roses to culinary delights, today is certainly a wonderful occasion to share a bit of love with anyone who makes your day a little bit brighter. However, the love doesn’t have to end at midnight tonight. With a full weekend ahead of us we’re here to share a few heart healthy and delicious recipe ideas, proving the Valentine’s Day love never has to be contained to one day.

  • Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms – These Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms are as cute as a button (a white button mushroom to be exact).  The delicious flavors of a cheesy slice of pizza in one bite! Now that’s love! Courtesy of What’s Gaby Cooking.
  • Spaghetti Bolognese – Who doesn’t love the romantic spaghetti scene from Lady and The Tramp?  Put your own spin on that classic moment, with this better for you version of Spaghetti Bolognese that blends together mushrooms and meat from our friends at Mushroom Canada.
  • Mushroom Risotto with Bacon and Peas – Risotto is the perfect basis for a variety of flavors, but we’re partial to this bacon, mushroom and pea combo from Add a Pinch.
  • Mushroom Orzo with Lemon Zest and Parsley – At this point of the season we’re all ready for a bit of spring love. Get a taste of spring flavors with this Mushroom Orzo flavored with fresh lemon zest.

The love doesn’t have to end here. Be sure to check out our dedicated Valentine’s Day Board, filled with recipes to share the love all year long.