Healthy Vegetarian Recipes:
Wild Mushroom Lasagna

Some healthy vegetarian recipes are so good you will not think about meat even for a moment. This is one of them. It includes the classic combination of garlic, wine and wild mushrooms, together with pasta and three kinds of Italian cheese that will be sure to get your taste buds going. This dish is basically as Italian as drinking Chianti in Milan while listening to Monteverdi, and all the better for that.

Mushrooms are a food low in calories but high in taste. Wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles and shiitake, are particularly flavorful and add greatly to any of the healthy vegetarian recipes that include them. For this reason they have often been called the meat of the vegetable world. Mushrooms are a good source of many B vitamins and also contain some of the minerals essential to our health, such as selenium, copper, zinc and potassium. They are one of the few food sources of germanium, which is a little known and important micronutrient.

Some of the Asian mushrooms (including oyster mushrooms and shiitake) have been observed to have the beneficial effect of thinning the blood, which reduces blood pressure, and have a stimulating effect on the immune system, so they do more than just taste good.  Shiitake, in particular, are currently being studied for their potential in fighting cancer.

Parsley is an herb that is familiar to most people. It is widely used in Spanish cuisine, and all around the Mediterranean basin. Eating parsley affects the function of the kidneys in a positive way, increasing the expulsion of water and sodium from the body and helping to retain potassium. Since high levels of sodium often play a role in raised blood pressure, this is useful in keeping moderately high blood pressure under control.

Parsley also contains high levels of vitamin C and iron, and helps the body absorb manganese, which is an important mineral for building healthy bones. This is especially true if eaten at the same time as foods containing zinc and copper, such as mushrooms! If this weren’t enough, eating parsley also stimulates the bowels and prevents your breath from smelling of garlic, an issue with many healthy vegetarian recipes.

So, if you are worried about the amount of delicious high-fat cheese in this healthy vegetarian recipe (and it really is delicious), be assured by the fact that both the parsley and mushrooms are working to keep your blood pressure down and doing all kinds of other good things for your body at the same time. As Hippocrates once said ’let food be your medicine’ and when it tastes this good, it is really hard to argue with the old Greek dude. Arguing with dead people also makes you look weird.

Photo: Farah Marzuki

Wild Mushroom Lasagna

Yield 8
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes

Ingredients

12 lasagna pasta noodles
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
2 thinly sliced medium onions
1 pound cleaned and sliced, 1/4-inch-thick mixed wild mushrooms (chanterelles, shiitake, oyster, etc)
1/4 cup chopped fresh italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped thyme (fresh)
1/4 cup marsala wine
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup whole milk
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prepare the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the package. Rinse and drain the noodles and then place each noodle flat on a paper towel. Do not place lasagna noodles on top of each other or otherwise they will stick together.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 6 to 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, parsley, and thyme and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the wine and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, remove it from the heat and set aside.
  6. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Using a wire whisk, stir in the flour and nutmeg. Continue whisking until the flour is incorporated and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Slowly add the vegetable broth and the milk, whisking constantly, and cook until the sauce thickens.
  8. Stir in the Fontina cheese until it has completely melted. Add salt and pepper to taste and then remove from heat.
  9. Place a third of the cooked lasagna noodles in a layer on the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Place a third of the mushroom mixture on top of the noodles, spreading it evenly. Pour a third of the sauce over the mushroom mixture and spread evenly.
  10. Repeat step 9 twice. Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the top.
  11. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, making sure it is tightly sealed and that the foil is not touching the top layer. You can place some toothpicks in the center of the dish and arch the foil over them to avoid this.
  12. Place the dish in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top starts bubbling. Remove dish from the oven and allow it to stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. 

This healthy vegetarian recipe makes for great leftovers and can be frozen for a quick dinner when you don't have time to cook.



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