Foods We Love: Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms add a gentle, musky flavor to any dish. Most often found in Asian cooking, these convex caps date back as far as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The name comes from the Japanese word "shii," which is the term for the wood of the Pasania species of tree where shiitake grow. And "take" literally means "mushroom." Production of shiitakes in the United States did not occur until the mid-1980s, following a 1972 lifting of the ban on their cultivation.


Shiitakes can be grown in a highly sustainable way: on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting, through a method called "forest farming," which has become very popular in the U.S. This mushroom is an excellent source of B vitamins, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, and three important antioxidants: manganese, zinc, and selenium.


Here's a luscious recipe for risotto with leeks, shiitake mushrooms, and truffles. When you're all done, you can wash up with Seventh Generation Fresh Citrus Hand Wash.


Risotto with Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Truffles
Yields: 6-8 servings


  • 2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved, thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream


  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon white truffle oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups (or more) hot vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons shaved or chopped black truffle (optional)
  • Chopped fresh parsley

For leeks:
Bring leeks and cream to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until leeks are tender and cream is thick, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before continuing.


For mushrooms:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss all ingredients on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until mushrooms are tender and light brown around edges, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.


For risotto:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup hot broth. Simmer until broth is almost absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next and stirring often, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes longer. Stir in leek mixture, mushroom mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, cheese, and truffle. Transfer to large bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.


photo: Keith Weller