Tesco partners with its Director of Plant Based Innovation, Derek Sarno, to reveal five new ways to cook with mushrooms

Mushrooms are having a moment. Predicted to be one of the biggest food trends of 2022, the versatile vegetable has had quite the popularity surge in the past year].

A staple of many classic dishes, from Spaghetti Bolognese and Carbonara, to Chicken and Mushroom Pie, mushrooms are already a fixture in many British households, yet many people don’t realise the extent of their versatility.

Along with being loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, mushrooms have the lowest carbon footprint of all proteins and vegetables[ii], making them not only better for people’s health, but also better for the planet.

Here, Derek Sarno, Head of Plant Based Innovation at Tesco, author of ‘Mushroom Manifesto’, and self-proclaimed ‘mushroom guru’, shares his top five innovative ways to cook with this versatile vegetable.

  1. Mushroom ‘Bacon’

I often hear meat eaters say that one of their biggest barriers to going plant based is having to give up bacon. But here’s the secret, you don’t… you can make bacon out of almost any mushroom, but my personal preference is to use shiitake mushrooms.

For the shiitake ‘bac’n’, preheat the oven to 205°C (gas 6, fan 180°C). Using 227g of shiitake mushrooms, remove the stems (save them for another use) then slice the caps thinly. Place the caps in a medium bowl and add 4 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of granulated garlic, ¾ tsp of smoked paprika, and ¼ tsp of ground black pepper and mix well. Set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes (overnight is even better). Remove from the marinade and spread the shrooms in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until crisp and brown but not burnt, turning halfway through cooking, 25-30 minutes total. Set aside to cool on the sheet, and there you have your mushroom ‘bacon’!

  1. Mushroom ‘Steaks’

You don’t have to miss out on a ‘steak dinner’ just because you’re not eating meat – mushrooms make a great steak alternative, especially oyster mushrooms – and when cooked the right way, the texture is incredibly meaty.

Our signature pan-pressing technique makes show-stopping steaks with crispy edges and juicy centres, seasoned just right. We’ve been perfecting this technique for years and it just keeps getting better and better. For the biggest steaks, use the biggest mushrooms you can find.

Get a large heavy pan (e.g. cast-iron) and make it very hot over a medium-high heat, then add oil, swirling to coat. Place the mushrooms stem side down in the pan then put another heavy pan over the mushrooms to gently weigh them down, but don’t press down hard yet or the shrooms will break.

After a couple of minutes, the shrooms will have softened up a bit. At that point, fold up a kitchen towel and gently press it into the centre of the top pan to begin pressing the mushrooms. As they release more water, apply firmer and firmer pressure to press the mushrooms. Pressing the first side will take 5 to 6 minutes. Season with BBQ rub, garlic, salt and black pepper, then flip the shrooms with tongs or a spatula and add oil, shaking the pan to get the shrooms coated. Press firmly until they are seared, browned, and pressed to less than half their original thickness, another 5 minutes or so. Continue pressing, searing, and flipping until both sides are slightly charred and crispy.

  1. Pulled ‘Shrooms – aka Pulled Mushroom ‘Pork’

You don’t have to sacrifice your favourite backyard BBQ when you go plant based- just grab some shrooms instead – I swear you’ll barely taste the difference.

Using 6 large king oyster mushrooms, heat the oven to 200ºC (fan 190ºC). Shred the mushrooms by holding the cap and running a fork lengthwise along the stem, pulling away from the cap. Pull apart the shreds with your fingers and place in a large bowl. Thinly slice the caps if necessary. Add 2 tbsp of sage and onion seasoning, ½ tsp of granulated garlic, and ½ tsp of cracked black pepper and mix together until coated. Get a large heavy pan (e.g. cast-iron) and make it very hot. Add 4 tbsp of sunflower or vegetable oil, then add the seasoned shrooms and cook until browned all over, 8 to 10 minutes total, stirring now and then. Mix about 4 tbsp of your favourite BBQ sauce and 3 tbsp of IPA beer in the shroom bowl. Add the cooked mushrooms back to the bowl and toss to coat. Spread the sauced shreds on a parchment lined baking sheet, then roast in the oven until browned and caramelized, for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through for even browning.

  1. Mushroom ‘Scallops’

Mushroom scallops are one of my favourite plant based starters. They’re just as delicious as the original, yet are packed with nutrients, are a lot more affordable, and are ready in a matter of minutes.

Using a 200g pack of king oyster mushrooms, slice them widthways into scallop-sized pieces. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Carefully add the mushrooms in a single layer. Cook for 5 mins to brown the edges, then flip and cook for a few more mins until golden; season. Add ½ a lemon juiced and 1 rosemary sprig finely chopped, tossing to coat well. Divide around 30g of watercress between 2 plates and top with the ‘scallops’. Garnish with the balsamic drizzle and the toasted hazelnuts, and voila!

  1. Mushroom ‘Kebabs’

Kebabs are a much-loved delicacy amongst Brits, and many people wrongly believe that you can’t get a good plant based alternative.

There are two types of mushroom kebabs that I love. The first is skewered style kebabs, and the other is more of an alternative to the classic ‘shawarma’.  For the latter, slowly press meaty portobello mushrooms, coat them with warming spices, then thinly slice and stack them onto warm pitta bread with spicy harissa and cooling tzatziki sauces. The dream!

This January you can also enjoy a brand new Exotic mushroom mix from Tesco, now available exclusively for only £2.65. This unique product includes exotic mushroom varieties including oyster mushroom, King Oyster, Shimeji and Chanterelle.

You can find more mushroom based recipes on Tesco Real Food:

Mushroom ‘scallops’ recipe

This delicious vegan dish is the perfect starter for any occasion. Lemon and rosemary-coated oyster mushrooms, paired with crunchy, toasted hazelnuts and topped with balsamic drizzle, will impress any guest.

Vegan ‘steak’ and chips with peppercorn sauce recipe

This meaty oyster mushroom number is a great vegan alternative to steak. With crispy edges and an extra juicy centre, it perfectly balances the slight heat of the peppercorn sauce. Make sure to pair it with the Wicked Kitchen rub for additional flavour.

Teriyaki Mushroom Skewers Recipe

These Asian-inspired Teriyaki mushroom skewers will take your barbecue party to the next level. Bursting with hints of sweetness and topped with crunchy sesame seeds, they are super easy to make and only have 54 calories per serving, making it a very healthy bbq option.

[i] Kantar data, April 2020-2021

[ii] American Mushroom Institute – Sustainability