By Kelsey Casselbury 2017-12-30 13:39:58
POP QUIZ: When is a vegetable not a vegetable? When it’s a mushroom. Because they have no leaves, roots or seeds and don’t need light to grow, they don’t meet the definition of a vegetable. But fungi technically credit as “other vegetables” as part of the meal pattern for the National School Lunch Program. With their meaty texture and umami flavor, mushrooms offer another way to get the kids eating those greens…er...browns. About that brown hue—sure, it can be off-putting to a child who doesn’t have much experience with mushrooms. Also, when cooked incorrectly, a mushroom’s texture can be a little slimy, creating another potential impediment to student acceptance. With a little bit of know-how, though, it’s easy to prepare and serve mushrooms that kids won’t take with a begrudging shrug, but grab with genuine enthusiasm! Last September, the Hoover City (Ala.) Schools’ Child Nutrition Program (CNP) team offered up mushroom recipes as the focus of its “Produce of the Month,” reports Tricia Neura, MPH, RD, LD, SNS, assistant CNP director. “Our managers offered mushrooms as a taste-test at least one time during the month to all students, including those who do not purchase a lunch with us,” she explains. A bonus of this monthly activity is that it “allows our managers the autonomy to create items on their own, as opposed to sticking to standardized recipes served across the district. This is the only time they are allowed this much freedom in recipe development, but it gives them an opportunity to let their culinary skills shine!” Sampling allows students the “safety” of trying a new dish without making a full-meal commitment. Another tried-and-true technique to accept new items—including mushrooms—is to develop interest through education. The team at San Diego (Calif.) Unified School District produced a video about the farm where local mushrooms are sourced, shares Fred Espinosa, food and nutrition services manager of production and acquisition. This demonstrated to the students how mushrooms are grown, as well as their nutritional value. Up the road in San Luis (Calif.) Coastal Unified School District, another foodservice team has done its share of taste-tests to improve student acceptance, says Director Erin Primer, CDM, CFPP. “Try a ‘Love It,’ ‘Like It’ and ‘Tried It’ approach, where students can taste a slice of raw or cooked mushroom in a paper cup,” she suggests. “Have them vote with one of the three phrases above.” If all else fails, chop ‘em up and blend ‘em in! By mixing finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat, every serving of a meat-based meal also contributes 1⁄8 cup other vegetables. This tactic is so popular that some food manufacturers have created pre-blended products, making it even easier to menu mushrooms for school meals. In addition to offering a stealth health approach that may curry favor with young customers, blending mushrooms and meat together is a way to extend school food budgets without sacrificing flavor. With these benefits in mind— and with the help of some dedicated school nutrition pros, as well as The Mushroom Council (and a little bit of our own creativity)—SN offers up 21 ideas to successfully serve mushrooms to students. ENTRÉES 1) Let’s start simple. Some would swear that sliced mushrooms were made expressly for the purpose of topping a pizza. Combine them with other kid favorites, like turkey sausage or pepperoni, or opt for a veggie-loaded pizza, adding peppers, olives and broccoli along with the mushrooms. 2) If you have some extra-large mushrooms (such as portobello caps) that leave you perplexed on how to menu, create mini crustless pizzas! Clean up the mushrooms, add a dollop of pizza sauce to the middle and then add popular toppings and a pinch of shredded cheese. Bake until they’re piping hot—kids will get a kick out of the pizza-that’s-not-a-pizza. 3) Don’t forget good ol ’-fashioned beef burgers, in which mushrooms do more than just add flavor and a vegetable credit. “Sneaking mushrooms into our beef patties allows us to menu a larger portion size,” says Primer. “It also offers the ability to offer better quality beef, such as local grass-fed beef blended with mushrooms, as it keeps the cost down.” 4) The full flavor and juicy quality of the beef-mushroom blend is practically guaranteed to be a hit. Still, the vegetarians among your customers will appreciate a burger prepped just for them—add diced mushrooms to your favorite bean, lentil or other scratch veggie burger recipe. Mushrooms add that something extra that helps to mimic the mouth-feel and taste of a meat burger. 5) Speaking of burgers, you don’t have to just add mushrooms to a mixture of other vegetables and grains— you can make the mushroom act as the burger itself! A juicy portobello mushroom cap that’s been grilled or baked tastes great when sandwiched in a freshly baked or toasted bun topped with conventional faves, such as ketchup, mustard, cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato and pickles. 6) Who says mushrooms only blend well with beef? Chopped mushrooms give ground turkey a little extra juiciness, such as when you’re making fresh turkey meatballs for subs... 7) ...Or if you’re serving spaghetti with a meat sauce for lunch. “Mushrooms taste best when they’re sautéed and included in a cooked item to enhance its taste, such as in spaghetti sauce,” notes Tricia Neura. 8) Did someone say spaghetti? Mushrooms and pasta are a winning combination, particularly when it comes to introducing a student to the flavor and texture of the fungi-turned veggie. Put together something simple: whole grain-rich pasta, cheese and sauteed mushrooms with a few herbs and spices. Let those mushrooms be the star. 9) Here’s another blend idea: Sloppy Joes. Add finely diced mushrooms to the sauce mixture for one of those sneaky ways to serve the fungi—and extend your protein budget. 10) Assemble Philly cheesesteak subs, with or without the steak! Those who enjoy eating beef can get a bit of steak, along with sliced portobellos, while the veggie-lovers can skip the meat and just opt for the mushrooms and cheese. (Check out the vegetarian recipe already formulated to meet K-12 nutrition regulations on this page.) 11) Let’s go south of the border with enchiladas. Mushrooms make a fantastic filling, either paired with beans or chicken, or just on their own, with a flavorful enchilada sauce and a bit of cheese. 12) Asian cuisine never seems to stop trending. Put together Thai lettuce cups, seasoned with quintessential flavors, such as cilantro, peanut butter, ginger and soy sauce. Instead of adding ground beef, though, use diced mushrooms. 13) Here’s another Asian-inspired idea: Pump up your students’ favorite stir-fry recipes by adding mushrooms. This is an opportunity to try out some of the less-common varieties of mushrooms, such as shiitakes (see the box on page 73). 14) Made-to-order, customizable meals are a hot trend right now in schools, so how about a build-your-own baked potato bar? Put sautéed mushrooms front and center, while including other classic toppings as additional options. The list could feature chopped broccoli, scallions, shredded cheese and (portion cups of) sour cream. If your kids like mashed potatoes better, this same concept works just as well in a “bar” format, with the same ingredients. 15) Trend alert! Breakfast-for-lunch is big news, so combine that with a custom concept by creating an omelet bar (or, for a little less work, a scrambled egg bar) that lets kids mix-in a variety of tasty items with their eggs. This could include sautéed mushrooms, onions, spinach and bell peppers. Angela Cardwell, SNS, nutrition director for Tullahoma (Tenn.) City Schools, offers mushrooms on a scrambled egg bar at the high school level three times a week, which is well-received. SIDE DISHES 16) “We like to lightly sprinkle mushrooms with olive oil and Butter Buds, use salt-free Lawry’s seasoning “salt” and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. They are wonderful. Our students prefer whole, cooked mushrooms,” says Cardwell. 17) Don’t want to stand at the stovetop, sautéing your mushrooms? Roast them! “Roasting mushrooms and lightly seasoning them with salt, pepper and fresh parsley works well,” reports Fred Espinosa. 18) Espinosa adds that his students often try mushrooms offered on the salad bar. “We encourage students to try them with our awesome sauce, which is a honey-mustard dressing,” he says. 19) Take a page from a holiday classic: green beans and mushrooms. With some olive oil, lemon juice, dried herbs, salt and pepper, this recipe couldn’t be any easier. 20) Add Parmesan cheese and subtract those green beans—now you have baked Parmesan mushrooms, another easy side dish that is sure to appeal. 21) You’ve heard of kale chips— what about baked mushroom chips? Choose the larger mushroom varieties for this, as they shrink down while baking (just like kale). Simply spray sliced mushrooms with olive oil or an olive oil spray and add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Bake them until the edges are crisp. This is just right for a taste-testing activity. MAD FOR MUSHROOMS These are just some of the dozens of ideas that help you add mushrooms to your menu. Of course, many of these will take some fleshing out to ensure that the final product meets federal nutrition standards, but coming up with a winning concept is half the battle! For more best practice success stories from school districts, including recipes and tips, as well as instructional videos, cafeteria posters, multi-media presentations, activity books, meal cycle calendars and other resources, visit the Mushroom Council at www.mushroomsinschools.com. Blended Beef Street Tacos 3 1⁄4 lbs. Beef crumbles, commodity 20 ozs. Mushrooms, cooked, drained, without salt, diced 60 Corn tortillas, 5-in. 2 1⁄2 cups White onions, chopped 1 1⁄4 cups Cilantro, minced As needed Pan spray 1) Spray 2-in. full-size steamtable pans with pan spray, then pour in the beef crumbles and the cooked mushrooms. Cover with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. 2) Heat the beef in a 375°F convection oven for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is 140°F or above. 3) Lay a clean, moist kitchen towel in the bottom of a 2-in. full-size steamtable pan. Lay the tortillas on top of the towel and cover with plastic wrap. Place the pan in a hot box warmer for 20 minutes prior to service.* 4) Mix the chopped onions and cilantro together in a bowl. Right before service, transfer the tortillas to a 2-in. half pan. Fan out the tortillas in the pan to make them easier to grab. 5) To serve, position three tortillas on a plate or tray to create three tacos. Scoop 1.2-ozs. blended beef-mushroom into each taco shell. Sprinkle each taco with 1⁄4 oz. cilantro-onion mix. *Notes: Only warm a small batch of tortillas at a time, rather than the full amount needed for the entire service. Rotate through the warmer to ensure they are soft and pliable at service. Additionally, do not use pans deeper than 4-in. for service, in order to keep the item fresh and attractively displayed. Recipe, Nutritional and Meal Pattern Analyses: Chef Tim Smith, San Luis (Calif.) Coastal Unified School District, www.slcusd.org Photo: Kendra Aronson Creative Studio, www.kendraaronsoncreativestudio. pixieset.com SERVES 20 (3 tacos each) PER SERVING 347 cal., 10 g fat, 20 g pro., 46 g carb., 4 g fiber, 431 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2-oz.-eq. grain Beef Stroganoff With Rotini 3⁄4 cup Garlic powder 3⁄4 cup Onion powder 1⁄2 cup Ground black pepper 10 lbs. Sour cream, reduced-fat 150 ozs. Mushroom soup, condensed lowfat, low-sodium 2 qts. Milk, nonfat 12 lbs., 8 ozs. Rotini, whole-grain* 6 lbs., 4 ozs. Mushrooms, diced 14 lbs., 6 ozs. Beef crumbles 8 lbs., 8 ozs. Onions, chopped As needed Pan spray 1) Lightly spray four 4-in. full-size steamtable pans with pan spray. 2) In a bowl, mix the garlic powder, onion powder and pepper together. Set aside. 3) In a separate larger bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mushroom soup and milk. 4) In each steamtable pan, place 3 lbs., 9.5 ozs., of beef crumbles. Add a 1⁄2 cup of the seasoning mixture to each pan, and fold to combine. 5) To each pan, add 1 lb., 9 ozs. diced mushrooms and 2 lbs., 2 ozs., of diced onions. Fold to mix. 6) To each pan, add 5 lbs., 13.5 ozs. (93 total ozs.) of the sour cream-and-soup mixture and fold together with the crumbles, mushrooms and onions. Mix gently to combine. 7) Add 3 lbs., 2 ozs., of dry rotini to each pan and fold together. 8) Pat down the mixture to ensure that all the pasta is submerged in the mushroom sauce. 9) Cover tightly. 10) Bake in a preheated convection oven at 350°F for 1 hour, 30 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 165°F is reached. 11) To serve, portion 1 1⁄2 cups of rotini in the meaty mushroom sauce using a 12-oz. spoodle. *Note: Barilla Whole-Grain Rotini can be used in this recipe. Recipe, Photo and Nutritional and Meal Pattern Analyses: Barilla Foodservice, www.barillafoodservicerecipes.com SERVES 100 (1 ó cups) PER SERVING 405 cal., 14 g fat, 21 g pro., 54 g carb., 9 g fiber, 376 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2-oz.-eq. whole grains, 1/4 cup vegetable Kitchen Wisdom • One of the benefits of this stroganoff recipe is the “meatiness” of the mushrooms, which hold up well with the wholegrain pasta. • Definitely use the diced mushrooms, so the beef and mushrooms blend together. It’s likely that kids who don’t like mushrooms might not even suspect they are there! • There’s too much onion, appearance-wise. The onion flavor is good, but the visual amount of onion might make kids less likely to try it. Maybe reduce the amount of diced onion and add more onion powder instead. • I cooked it for less time, 50 minutes to 1 hour. The pasta was cooked but not mushy. As it sits in the warmer, it will continue to cook. I also mixed it at the halfway point to try and prevent a layer of crunchy noodles on top. Portabella Philly Sub 1 cup Canola oil 12 lbs., 2 ozs. Portabella mushrooms, sliced 5 lbs., 2 ozs. Bell peppers, sliced 6 lbs., 2 ozs. Sweet onions, sliced 1⁄2 cup Ground black pepper 2 cups Worcestershire sauce* 100 each Hoagie rolls, whole-wheat, 6-in. 12 lbs., 8 ozs. Mozzarella cheese, light, shredded 1) Preheat a tilt skillet to medium heat. Add the oil and mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes. 2) Add the peppers and onions and sauté for 4 more minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and sauté for 3 more minutes. 3) Empty the mushrooms and vegetables mixture into two 4-in. steamtable pans. 4) Place 1⁄2 cup of the sautéed vegetables inside a split hoagie roll. Top with 2 ozs. of shredded mozzarella cheese. Hold above 135°F until service. *Note: For a vegan recipe, use a vegan Worcestershire sauce. Recipe, Photo and Nutritional and Meal Pattern Analyses: The Mushroom Council, www.mushroomsinschools.com SERVES 100 PER SERVING 280 cal., 9.5 g fat, 19.6 g pro., 24.5 g carb, 3.8 g fiber, 546.5 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2-oz.-eq. grains, 1/4 cup other vegetable Kitchen Wisdom • Consider using a packaged fire-roasted peppers-and-onions vegetable blend that is perfect for this. It would save on labor. • Marinating mushrooms in Italian dressing would increase the flavor. • This is a great option for vegetarians, but portabella mushrooms are expensive, so they might be unrealistic to procure on a school budget. • I did not have enough Worcestershire sauce, so I substituted soy sauce. People who tried it thought it tasted good and could not tell it was soy sauce. • I would separate the mushrooms and the bell peppers and onions. Prepare them the same way, but serve the peppers and onions as a hot vegetable option that students could top their mushrooms with, if they want them. Some kids are super fussy about what vegetables they eat and might be more willing to try portabella mushrooms if the other vegetables weren’t mixed in. • When building sandwiches, I put half the cheese on the bottom half of the hoagie roll, placed the mushroom mix on top of the cheese, then placed the rest of the cheese on top. This accomplishes a few things: It melts the cheese on the bottom, acts as a barrier so the bread doesn’t get soggy and looks like less cheese. • It might be good to try it with red peppers or even a red, orange and yellow pepper blend, in order to have a more colorful sandwich. These peppers are milder than the green, which might find more favor with students. Cranberry & Mushroom Citrus-Ginger Chicken With Veggies 6 cups Cranberry sauce, jellied 2 Tbsps. Orange zest, fresh 3 cups Orange juice 2 tsps. Ground ginger 1 lbs., 12 ozs. Cranberries, dried, sweetened 3 lbs. Cooked chicken, diced, frozen 5 lbs. Carrots, sliced, frozen 2 lbs. Snap peas, frozen 1 1⁄2 lbs. Fresh mushrooms, sliced As needed Pan spray 1) To make the cranberry-ginger sauce: Pour the jellied cranberry sauce into a 4-in. full-size steamtable pan. Whisk it until the consistency is smooth. Gradually stir in the orange juice to combine. 2) Stir in the orange zest, ground ginger and dried cranberries. Cover and set aside. 3) Place the frozen diced cooked chicken in a separate 4-in. full-size steamtable pan with a perforated insert* and steam for 5 minutes, until the chicken is heated to 165°F for 15 seconds. 4) Place the frozen carrots in another 4-in. full-size steamtable pan with a perforated insert and layer the frozen snap peas on top. Steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp and tender. Hold hot in the perforated pan to allow excess liquid to drain from the vegetables. 5) Coat another full-size steamtable pan with pan spray. Place the sliced mushrooms in the pan and spray them lightly with pan release. Toss the slices to coat. 6) In a preheated 350°F oven, cook the mushrooms until they are tender and browned for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. 7) While the mushrooms are cooking, heat the cranberry-ginger sauce in a steamer for 5 minutes. 8) In one 6-in. full-size steamtable pan, combine the heated chicken, cooked vegetables and heated sauce and fold together to mix. Hold hot at 135°F until service. 9) To serve, portion a 6-oz. spoodle (3⁄4 cup) of mixture on a plate or bowl.* *Notes: If perforated pan inserts are not available, drain all cooked items well to remove excess liquid. Consider serving over a half-cup of brown rice to add 1-oz.-eq. grains to the meal pattern credit. Recipe: Teal Carpenter, former school nutrition director, Gloversville (N.Y.) Enlarged, School District www.gesdk12.org. Photo, Nutritional and Meal Pattern Analyses: Cranberry Marketing Committee, www.uscranberries.com; The Mushroom Council, www.mushroomsinschools.com SERVES 48 (. cup) PER SERVING 200 cal., 2.5 g fat, 10 g pro., 34 g carb., 3 g fiber, 65 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 1-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 3⁄8 cup vegetables (1/4 cup red/orange subgroup, 1⁄8 cup other subgroup), 3⁄8 cup fruit Kitchen Wisdom • This would be good as a cold chicken salad too. Just defrost the chicken and veggies, make the sauce and blend. • If you use linguine or another flat noodle with it, it’s similar to an udon bowl and full of flavor. • I used shelled peas instead of snap peas. It is something we stock, and snap peas are expensive, so this substitute is more realistic for us. • Orange zest may be difficult for schools lacking tools to zest. Maybe peel the rind and put it in the sauce while you steam and then remove the rind afterward, if you really want the zest flavor. However, I believe the orange juice has enough orange flavor that the zest isn’t needed. • I would modify by thawing all the ingredients the day before and draining off the excess liquid before cooking. Then mix the sauce ingredients together and leave all the other ingredients cold; don’t cook them separately. Then mix everything together (cold mixed sauce and cold thawed ingredients) and bake in the oven to get rid of the excess moisture and allow the flavors to blend together to make a more cohesive-tasting dish. • Our experience with the commodity chicken is that you have to add a flavor booster even though it is fully cooked; otherwise the chicken would be tasteless. 6 Types of Mighty Mushrooms BUTTON: When most of us envision mushrooms, we’re most likely picturing the white button variety. They can be super-tiny (the size of a fingernail) or swell to 3 inches in diameter, and they have a very mild-taste. There’s a mistaken, but common, belief that rinsing mushrooms under cold water will make them mushier. This is inaccurate and you should always ensure they are clean before prepping them in recipes. CREMINI: These guys look an awful lot like button mushrooms, but they’re darker in color and just a smidge more expensive. Here’s why: They’re the same kind of mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), but they’ve been left to age a little longer. If you let them go even longer, they age into those wide, flat portobello mushrooms. For that reason, creminis are often sold as “baby bellas” or “baby portobellos.” OYSTER: Oyster mushrooms have nothing to do with seafood, other than they’re gray, just like oysters (however, there are also golden, pink and purple varieties). While you might not see oyster mushrooms on store shelves as frequently as portobello or shiitake, they’re actually the most widely cultivated type of mushroom in the world! They’re delicate and tender, making them better for quick stir-fries than long roasts. PORCINI: These are the toadstool mushrooms of fairy tales. These are some of the more-expensive mushrooms on the market, but have a more intense flavor to justify that price tag. PORTOBELLO (AKA PORTABELLA): As previously mentioned, portobellos are a larger, more mature version of creminis and buttons. Apparently, in the 1980s, the mushroom industry came up with a brilliant marketing campaign to sell “over-mature” common mushrooms, making them ultra-popular in the early Nineties. Portobellos have the most meat-like texture and flavor of all mushroom varieties, making them a good stand-in for beef. They can be grilled, baked, roasted or stir-fried—the choice is yours. SHIITAKE: Shiitakes have been cultivated in China and Japan for 2,000 years. It makes sense, then, that you most often see shiitakes in Asian cuisine. Shiitakes are 75% water; that sounds like a lot, but it’s actually significantly lower than other varieties (buttons and creminis are more than 92% water). Therefore, it’s much firmer and chewier than other types of mushrooms. Recipes published in School Nutrition have not been tested by the magazine or SNA in a school foodservice setting, except for certain “Kitchen Wisdom” selections, which are evaluated by a volunteer pool of operators. When available, nutrient analyses are provided by the recipe source. Required ingredients, preparation steps and nutrient content make some recipes more appropriate for catering applications or adult meals. Readers are encouraged to test recipes and calculate their own nutrition analyses, meal patterns and HACCP steps. Kelsey Casselbury is a contributing editor for SN. She’s based in Maryland.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.