The magic of mushrooms: Champiñones al ajillo

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    Mushrooms. I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is the magic of mushrooms. More about that later.

    The ones that are edible and nutritious and don’t affect our thinking are low-calorie and packed with loads of good stuff such as manganese, zinc, copper, phosphorus, potassium and  selenium. They are also a great source of B vitamins and L-ergothioneine  — a powerful antioxidant — and they have more protein than other vegetables. In other words, mushrooms are a true power food.

    Magic mushrooms

    These mushrooms, the magic ones known for their recreational use, are coming to some good use too. According to researchers, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms may help people with depression by enabling them to relive positive and happy moments of their lives.

    Mushroom picking: keep it a hobby

    However, some mushrooms are toxic. And although you can see them everywhere, you can’t just grab any and consume them as if they were wild berries.

    Some are fatal. So, keep the picking a hobby and leave it to the experts to find the edible ones.

    A million ways to make them

    Mushrooms may accompany almost any dish, enhancing the flavor. As an added ingredient to a meal, rice, a stew, pizza topping, you name it. I’ll stick to a simple tapa which makes it the centerpiece entirely and it is very simple, so you can taste the mushrooms over the other ingredients.

    Quick, easy homemade ‘champiñones al ajillo’ make a delicious tapa.  (Photo Lorraine Ladish)

    ‘Champiñones al ajillo’

    You guessed it: mushrooms sautéed with garlic. My abuelita used to make them when the rest of the troop was gone for the weekend. This was fantastic! I had the cook to my self. She made different meals with the family away. Dishes she truly enjoyed to eat herself, and weren’t part of the daily menu. This was a break for her and a treat for me, of course.


    Time: 20 minutes

    (Serves 2)

    • 3 cups water
    • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 lb. mushrooms
    • 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
    • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


    Wash the mushrooms well, under cold tap water.

    In a medium bowl, pour the cold water and lemon juice. Add the mushrooms and wash them well again, removing them immediately.

    Dry well with a kitchen towel or paper towel, and place in a dry bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic, salt and mix. Heat a skillet and add the mushrooms.

    Cook on medium for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan once in a while. Raise the temperature to high and cook for another 5 minutes, shaking for even cooking.

    Once they are done, remove from heat and place in a clay dish to the tapa a traditional look. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve with other tapas and bread to soak up the juices. Enjoy!

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