Today's tip

Learn more about buying, storing and cooking porcini mushrooms.

Porcini are one of the most prized varieties of wild mushrooms. In Italy, they are in season from early summer into fall. The tight, small ones are much appreciated raw in salad or sliced and sautéed, whereas the larger caps and sliced stipes are great for grilling. Porcini have the flavor of meat; all you need is a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.

When buying porcini, look for a firm stipe and cap, and dry, not wet or slimy. To store them, spread the porcini on a tray lined with paper towels and cover with a slightly damp paper towel; they should keep for four or five days.

I also always have dried porcini in my cupboard; they deliver a wallop of flavor to soups, pasta sauces, and braised meats. They can be made into porcini powder to season meats before grilling, or to use in stuffing and breading.