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The healthful qualities of edible mushrooms

Published Sep. 27, 2005

(ran SP, NP, ST editions)

Mushrooms long have been prized by cultures around the world for their healing powers. Scientists, primarily in China and Japan, have begun to explore the disease-fighting potential of nonfood mushrooms.

Meanwhile, edible mushrooms have healthful qualities. They are free of fat, cholesterol and sodium and have very few calories. Mushrooms also are high in riboflavin and are a source of potassium, selenium and other minerals.

The crimini mushrooms used in this Provencal-style stew sometimes are called baby portabellos, but they can be used like white mushrooms when you want more flavor.

Quick Mushroom and White Bean Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound (about 5 caps) fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

} teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

2 cans (13} ounces each) chicken broth

1 can (14{ ounces) stewed tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

\ cup dry white wine or water

2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained

In a Dutch oven or large sauce pan, heat oil until hot. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic and thyme; cook and stir until onion is very tender and mushrooms are slightly golden, about 7 minutes. Add chicken broth, tomatoes with their liquid, and wine; bring to a boil; cover and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mash 1 cup of the beans until smooth; add to the stew. Stir in remaining beans; heat until hot. Serve immediately with a mound of steamed rice, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Source: the Mushroom Council.