The umami guide to our favourite mushrooms

A delightful selection of mushroom varieties laid out on a simple wooden plate.

We think mushrooms are one of the most enjoyable ingredients to cook with. There are plenty of edible varieties to try, each with their own distinctive shape, size and taste. And with curious names such as chanterelle, the gypsy, horn of plenty or hen of the woods, who wouldn't want to know more about cooking with the mighty mushroom?

One of the best things about mushrooms is their versatility. They can be fried, roasted, grilled, steamed or even cooked in the microwave, and they can be served as the main ingredient for a dish, or simply added as part of the mix. This makes mushrooms an ideal choice for creating absolutely delicious vegetarian dishes.

So let's take a look at some of our favourite types of mushroom. You might not have tried cooking with them before but don't let that put you off. With their delicious, distinctive flavours you can easily transform soups, starters, sauces and create amazing pasta or stir-fry dishes.

Try the lovely shiitake. Used in Asian cooking, these can be purchased dried and rehydrated for a strong, deep flavour. Or buy fresh and add to soups and stir-fries. Not only does this mushroom have an intense flavour, it looks lovely too. The deep brown and smooth shapes will provide texture to your meal. In their dried form and rehydrated, these are the perfect addition for a deep and flavourful stock for a risotto.

The gorgeous sunny chanterelle with its yellow flesh has a fruity flavour - but it is worth mentioning that there are many lookalikes out there and care should be taken to ensure you're eating the right ones. These look great in an omelette or an asian soup to complement the yellow tones.

The brown morel offers a meaty and distinctive flavour and you'll probably love how extraordinary they look in a meal. The morel is a more popular mushroom during the spring, when their availability is high.

For delicacy try the enoki with its tiny white heads that grow in a bunch. These can even be eaten raw in salads. Finally, you can choose the popular oyster mushroom. They are named thus because they look nothing like a mushroom and resemble the innards of an oyster and their sweet flavour is delicious.