Fungi are in a class of their own. Different from animals, bacteria and plants, fungus can be found as mold, yeast & more familiarly: mushrooms. It’s an understatement to say that we don’t generally make an effort to incorporate a whole lot of fungus into our daily lives- and we have to be careful about what kinds we do expose ourselves to! The edible ones however add texture to what we eat, nutrition and are tasty to boot!
While the standard fare button mushrooms are most frequently available in the grocery store, you can sometimes also find crimini, shiitake, oyster, enoki, portabella mushrooms! When in season morels, truffles, chanterelles & porcini mushrooms (and more!) can be found at our outdoor farmers market downtown (May through October). Some of the most expensive mushrooms are priced so high because they’re tricky to find. Specially trained animals, often dogs & pigs sniff out the highly prized fungus. Don’t go mushroom hunting without someone highly skilled and never eat the ones growing in your backyard!
There are also some kinds of fungus that we don’t generally cook with which have medicinal qualities. Cordyceps has anti-aging properties and is favoured by athletes on account of its ability to increase ATP production, strength & endurance. There are also studies underway on this fungus for use in the field of cancer. It has been found to have potential as an anti-cancer drug on account of its anti-tumour properties. Due to its anti-inflammatory characteristics, it may be useful for those suffering with asthma, arthritis or any other inflammatory malady. At the root of all disease however, is inflammation.
Reishi mushrooms are also beneficial to the immune system and are used in cancer treatment as well; in particular leukemia and lung cancer. With antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties, they are a general anti-inflammatory and immune system booster ideal for just about anyone!
Some varieties of edible mushrooms have medicinal effects as well. Shiitake mushrooms have an ability to boost immune function. Even the common button mushroom has been found to improve our immune response to salmonella. There is a link between mushroom consumption and ones weight as well. If that’s not reason enough to increase the mushrooms coming home with you from the grocery store I don’t know what is!
This lasagna is one of my favourite dishes to make while the weather is still cold and the craving for stick-to-your-ribs kind of food is still lingering. I like to add wilted fresh organic spinach and make ricotta from scratch– super easy & a fun way to get a little more involved with where your food comes from! (make half this recipe if you only want enough ricotta for the lasagna recipe below). Making cheese at home is way easier than you think!
1 15-oz container ricotta cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 oz sliced mushrooms
2-3 links spicy chicken sausage, sliced
1 large jar marinara sauce
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box no-bake lasagna noodles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, salt, pepper and garlic.
Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray and then drizzle in about a quarter cup of the marinara sauce. Lay three lasagna noodles flat. On top of the noodles, spread a little bit of the ricotta mixture, followed by a small handful of mushrooms, sliced sausage and crumbled goat cheese. Follow with another quarter cup of sauce and top with three more noodles.
Repeat these process three times, ending up with a layer of noodles and the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese all over the top, followed by the rest of the goat cheese.
Cover pan very loosely with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.