From potatoes to zucchini, these easy mushroom substitutes will get you out of trouble, pronto.
From Shiitake to Portobellos, the sheer variety of edible mushrooms is incredible. The best mushrooms for cooking boast earthy, umami flavors that make them a fundamental part of cuisines all over the world.
Mushrooms are not only great in flavor, but they are also excellent from a health perspective. Unfortunately, as is with most healthy foods today, mushrooms can be pricey.
The high prices of mushrooms led people to seek alternatives that can provide similar flavor and nutritional value as mushrooms. Let’s take a look at five popular mushroom substitutes and the recipes they work best in.
A popular alternative to mushrooms, zucchini (also called courgette) resembles cucumber, but is in fact a member of the summer squash family.
While the vegetable can taste bitter when raw, it becomes soft and sweet when cooked. The refreshing taste and the soft yet chewy texture make it an excellent replacement for mushrooms in pasta dishes. It is flexible in terms of preparation too. You can cut, slice, or grate the vegetable.
Zucchini provides good value for money as it is sold at a per-unit price, and each unit can be up to 1 meter in length. Buying a single unit will allow you to use it in multiple dishes.
Eggplant (also known as aubergine or brinjal) is a versatile vegetable that’s used in cuisines all over the world, thanks to its firm exterior and meat-like flesh. Whether it’s Chinese grilled qiézi, Indian sambar, or Middle Eastern baba ghanoush, the number of ways it can be used is mind-blowing.
The flesh-like texture and smoky flavors of eggplant make it a good alternative to mushroom when cooking pies. It is also similar to button mushrooms in texture and takes a while to cook down. Although if overcooked, the vegetable tends to get mushy instead of chewy.
Besides being a great meat replacement, tofu is also a fantastic mushroom replacement. It is well known for its health benefits and its use in Asian cuisine.
Tofu is similar to mushrooms in retaining the chewy texture when cooked and in nutritional value. It makes for a great option to replace mushrooms in vegetarian stir-fry and vegan curry recipes.
Just like with mushrooms, there are different types of tofu, ranging from soft to silken to fermented. When using tofu to replace mushrooms, your best is to use firm tofu. It has a similar ability to soak and retain flavor and is delicious pan-fried or grilled.
Russet potatoes may not sound like a good replacement for mushrooms, but they definitely make as one in recipes that require baking. They also make for good substitutes in stews and curries as they absorb all the flavors and maintain their shape.
However, this property of russet potatoes can sometimes come off as a disadvantage. If you don’t want these potatoes to absorb all the juices or become too soggy, frying them before adding them to the recipe will help.
Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are one of the most popular substitutions for mushrooms. They are as nutritional and healthy as mushrooms and are an excellent addition to any meal.
They require a lot of preparation time, but you can cut down on it by getting canned chickpeas. As a replacement for mushrooms, they’re best when used in salads and sandwiches.
Out of the entire list, I would say my favorite replacement is zucchini. Zucchini can be used in several pasta dishes and offers a fresh burst of flavor. These can be baked, fried, or roasted, depending on the recipe. Similar to mushrooms, zucchini’s taste can also depend on where they were picked.
In all fairness, it isn’t easy to replace mushrooms. If you find yourself stranded in the supermarket needing a budgetary replacement, feel no shame in giving these options a chance. However, consider the recipes you want to try or make out of these when choosing a suitable replacement.