Thursday, March 03, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?

Today on my cooking board a very controversial question was brought up. It's a question you probably haven't given much thought to, but once I tell you what it is, you're going to think.

Do you consider mushrooms a vegetable?

My initial gut reaction was "yes, of course. They're certainly not a fruit."

But then I really thought about it. Just because something isn't a fruit, doesn't really make it a vegetable. And if I were trying to get in my daily vegetable intake, I probably wouldn't count mushrooms. In fact, if I were serving mushrooms in a dish, I would definitely serve a vegetable to go with them.

And I think I've mentioned time and time again that Thatbrother considers mushrooms a protein, which would be the same category as chicken or fish. (I think that might be a bit of a stretch)

So where do I put mushrooms? I mean, I know they're a fungus, that's not really the point. But in terms of "food groups" where do they fit? For me, they probably in the "accessory" column. Like olives (which I know is a fruit, but probably won't go in my fruit salad).

Instead, they're used for that little added "oomph" whether that be raw in salads or cooked on pizza or sauces. In fact mushrooms are a key ingredient in the classic dish of stroganoff. I think most common recipes tend to use cream of mushroom soup. Honestly, I'm not a fan of cream of mushroom soup. It tends to be high in sodium and other ingredients I can't pronounce. And it's not really necessary. You can get a nice and creamy sauce by combining fresh mushrooms and sour cream. And sour cream is a cream I can fully support. I also have a tip about sour cream (similar to my tip about cottage cheese) low fat is just about as low fat as I can go. Fat free sour cream just doesn't blend into things well and it has that plasticy texture I just can't get over.

Traditionalists may serve this over noodles, but I stick with brown rice. Why distract from that beautiful mushroom flavor? Besides, I'm willing to bet that if you serve it over noodles you won't be adding in any real vegetables. But there is a better chance that if you serve it with rice some lovely broccoli or green beans might also make it on to your plate.

Beef Stroganoff
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp onion, minced
1 lb beef tenderloin, cut into thin strips
1/4 lb sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper
sprinkle nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Melt half the butter in a skillet. Cook the onions in the butter until see through. Remove from the skillet.
2. Brown the beef in the skillet. Remove and place with the onions.
3. Add the rest of the butter to the skillet and add mushrooms. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
4. Whisk in the sour cream and heat without allowing to boil.
5. Return the beef and onions to the sauce and heat until warm.


  1. I adore this dish and do count mushrooms as a vegetable. (Maybe I am trying too hard). Non-fat is not food. Low-fat is also as low as I go! And while winter still reigns, you have kindly reminded me that I haven't made this in a whhile! Time to bring out the vegetable... err protein ... err funghi!

  2. This is really a beautifully executed dish. Your recipe is also first rate. While I don't know how the mushrooms should be categorized. I do know I'd love to have this for my dinner. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  3. I certainly am not going to lose sleep debating whether mushroom is a tastes good and it IS good for me, too. So as long as it is in my tummy, I'm happy. :D

    Like this amazing stroganoff.....

  4. Here's what Wikipedia says: "Mushrooms are a low-calorie food usually eaten raw or cooked to provide garnish to a meal. Raw dietary mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, and the essential minerals, selenium, copper and potassium. Fat, carbohydrate and calorie content are low, with absence of vitamin C and sodium (table, right)."

    So...I'll go with the garnish/accessory column.