The Sunset Mushroom at Iron John's Brewing (Photo by Shane Reiser)

Discovering Pioppino Mushrooms: Flavor, Recipes, and Health Benefits


July 1, 2024
By Shane Reiser
By Shane Reiser

Mushrooms are growing in popularity.

Here in Tucson, you’ll find them sprouting up on new menus as local chefs like David Solorzano at Agustin Kitchen experiment with them, often featuring them as a main entree. Culinary mushrooms are also easier to buy than ever, with multiple vendors offering them at Heirloom Farmers Markets, specialty markets like Gallery of Food stocking a great selection of maitake, lions mane, chestnuts, and more, and new growers getting into the game, like the recently launched Sunset Mushrooms.

That’s why I’m excited to launch a new monthly series here in Tucson Foodie dedicated to the fascinating world of mushrooms. Our goal is to explore the unique characteristics of different varieties and delve into their flavor profiles, culinary uses, and potential health benefits.

Each month, we’ll spotlight a different mushroom, sharing recipes and cooking tips to help you make the most of these versatile ingredients.

We’re also partnering with multiple local businesses to give you an opportunity to try the mushrooms we’re writing about, including:

  • A mushroom pizza at Iron John’s Brewing (scroll down for more info)
  • A mushroom beer with Crooked Tooth Brewing
  • A five-course dinner at JoJo’s featuring a variety of shrooms
A fresh batch of Pioppino Mushrooms at Sunset Mushrooms’s grow house in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
What Are Pioppino Mushrooms?

Pioppino mushrooms are a hidden gem in the mushroom world. They boast a rich, earthy flavor with a slight nutty undertone, making them a versatile addition to a variety of dishes. Their firm texture holds up well in cooking, and their delightful umami taste can elevate even the simplest meals.

Nutritional and Medicinal Benefits

Not only are pioppino mushrooms delicious, but they’re also packed with nutritional benefits. They’re a great source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, copper, and potassium. These mushrooms are also known for their antioxidant properties, which can help protect your cells from damage.

Medicinally, pioppinos have been used in traditional medicine for their anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Regular consumption may help improve overall health and well-being.

A box of fresh pioppino mushrooms from Sunset Mushrooms that was delivered to a Tucson Chef.
Flavor Profile and Cooking Tips

If you’re new to cooking with mushrooms, there are two things to know up front. First, mushrooms must be cooked. Cooking them makes them easier to digest by breaking down tough cell walls, releasing nutrients, and eliminating harmful germs and toxins.

Second, the simplest and perhaps best way to cook mushrooms is to do what Dr. Andrew Weil does —”sauté it in a little olive or avocado oil with a sprinkle of salt to sample its flavor and texture.” Pretty simple.

Pioppinos are known for their deep, savory flavor, which pairs perfectly with both rich and subtle ingredients. Here are a few cooking tips to get you started:

  • Sautéing: Pioppinos shine when sautéed in a bit of olive oil or butter. Add some garlic, shallots, and a splash of white wine to create a simple yet delicious dish.
  • Roasting: Toss them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast in the oven until they’re golden brown. They make an excellent side dish or salad topper.
  • Grilling: For a smoky twist, thread them onto skewers with other veggies and grill until tender.
Where to Buy Locally

You can sometimes find fresh pioppino mushrooms for sale from local vendors at Heirloom Farmers Markets. I’ve also found them hiding in a cute little basket at Gallery of Food’s amazing mushroom selection, at Aqua Vita Natural Food Market, and at The Food Conspiracy Co-op on Fourth Avenue.

Plus, if you’d like fresh mushrooms delivered to your home, you can order online from Sunset Mushrooms. Delivery days in Tucson are on Tuesdays and they deliver to Sierra Vista on Thursdays.

Recipe Ideas with a Sonoran Twist

Let’s say you got your hands on some fresh pioppinos and you want to do something fancy with them. Here are a couple of my favorite ways to enjoy these mushrooms with a Sonoran Desert flair:

Ingredients:

  • One pound of pioppino mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • One small onion, finely chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, minced
  • One teaspoon of cumin
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Corn tortillas
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Queso fresco, crumbled
  • Lime wedges

Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until softened.
  2. Add the sliced pioppino mushrooms and cook until they release their moisture and start to brown.
  3. Season with cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional two to three minutes.
  4. Serve the mushroom mixture in warm corn tortillas, topped with fresh cilantro, queso fresco, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Ingredients:

  • One pound of pioppino mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • One cup cooked and diced nopalitos (cactus pads)
  • One red bell pepper, diced
  • One small red onion, thinly sliced
  • One can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One avocado, diced
  • One-fourth cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of two limes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the pioppino mushrooms until tender and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the nopalitos, red bell pepper, red onion, black beans, and avocado.
  3. Add the cooled mushrooms to the salad mixture.
  4. Drizzle with lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently to combine.
  5. Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Order mushrooms online at sunsetmushrooms.com.

Wanna try some pioppino mushrooms right now?

We teamed up with Iron John’s and Sunset Mushrooms to bring you a pioppino mushroom pizza!

The Sunset Mushroom pizza at Iron John’s Brewing (Photo by 510 South)

The Sunset Mushroom

  • Brown butter (instead of pizza sauce)
  • Spinach
  • Sautéed pioppinos from Sunset Mushrooms, in oil, garlic, and salt
  • Mozzarella
  • Oregano

It’s available starting Monday, July 1, and will be featured as Iron John’s July Pizza of the Month.

This is one of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted in my life. Upon trying it, Javier Castillo of 510 South said it’s one of the best things he’s ever eaten in Tucson, not just pizza.

Iron John’s Brewing is located at 5350 E. Boadway Blvd. #128. For more information, visit ironjohnsbrewing.com.

I hope this introduction to pioppino mushrooms has piqued your interest and inspired you to get creative in the kitchen. Next month, we’ll be writing about King Trumpet mushrooms.

Happy cooking! 🌮🍕🍄

For more information about Sunset Mushrooms and to make an online order, visit sunsetmushrooms.com.

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