From a humble fungus comes one of your strongest allies – the mighty mushroom! Read on to see how you can enjoy some delicious country mushroom paté and at the same time benefit from what these fabulous fungi have to offer…
Mushrooms have many amazing properties, which can include supporting our immune system. For centuries, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms have been prized in Asia for their therapeutic value. While many mushroom varieties have wonderful flavors, textures, and healthful properties, these three mushrooms are the immune system superstars.
At any stage in life, we want a strong immune system. After all, your immune system is your body’s defense against infection and illness; it works to keep you healthy. The immune system recognizes the cells that belong to your body and uses your white blood cells to remove disease-causing organisms or substances, such as viruses and harmful bacteria.
When you’re dealing with a health crisis, it’s even more important to support your immune system.
What is it about these mushrooms specifically that is so supportive of our immune systems? Mushrooms contain special molecules, called polysaccharides. One type of these special molecules, in particular, is believed to stimulate the immune system and to activate certain immune system cells – such as T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells. These immune system cells attack cancer cells and other cells that don’t belong in a healthy body. One study showed that polysaccharides act as immune system regulators.  Another study reported that adding one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms had a beneficial effect on immune system function.  Indeed, extracts of mushrooms are now frequently used in integrative oncology to complement traditional cancer treatments, improving patient outcome.
Reishi mushrooms are usually available in dried form. Shiitakes and maitakes are available as both dried and fresh. When buying fresh, always look for firm, plump, and clean mushrooms, avoiding any that appear wet, slimy, or wrinkled. Fresh mushrooms keep best when stored loosely in a paper bag in the fridge, and they can keep for about a week before they start to dry out. You can keep dried mushrooms for several months in an airtight container in the cupboard.
Because mushrooms don’t contain chlorophyll, they can grow without sunlight. And because mushrooms absorb and concentrate whatever medium they grow in – whether good or bad – it’s important to use organic.
Mushrooms are not for everyone, though. If you have gout or kidney problems, you should avoid or limit your intake. (Mushrooms contain purines and oxalates; excessive amounts of purines can cause gout, and both purines and oxalates can cause kidney stones.)
To give your immune system the broadest benefit, eat a mix of mushrooms several times a week. Mushrooms are low in calories, carbohydrates, and sodium, and are free of cholesterol and fat. But they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other health-promoting qualities – so dig in to this healthy mushroom paté!
Yields Approx 2 cups
Country mushroom paté, three ways |Foodie Friday
An easy make-ahead appetizer that packs an immune system boost. You can make this dish in three ways using no fat, low fat, or healthy fat.
3 or 4 tblsp avocado (optional for healthy fat version)
2 or 3 tblsp goat cheese, softened (optional for low fat version)
Put the dried mushrooms into a bowl, and cover with the boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes.
Remove the mushrooms, and finely chop them. Set aside.
Using a fine sieve (or line your sieve with a coffee filter or paper towel), strain the mushroom liquid into a bowl and set aside.
Pour the broth into a frying pan and warm through.
Add chopped onion and cook over low/medium heat for a few minutes until the onion softens.
Add the mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook over high heat for a few minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown. The mushrooms will release their liquid and eventually the liquid will have evaporated.
When the pan is dry, add the Madeira if using, and cook until it has evaporated.
Add the soaked mushrooms and the soaking liquid, and continue cooking.
When the liquid is almost cooked away, remove from the heat and add salt and pepper as needed.
When the mixture is lukewarm, blend it in a food processor or blender until it is as smooth as you want. Although paté is traditionally very smooth, I prefer mine to be a bit chunky – country style!
Put the paté into an airtight container and let it rest in the fridge for at least five hours to meld the flavors. The paté will keep in the fridge for around five days.
Although the preparation and processing time for this dish is minimal, the finished paté needs to sit in the fridge for five hours to give the flavors time to develop and meld together, so it's best to plan ahead. To make the healthy fat or low fat versions, add the avocado or goat cheese before whizzing the mix in the food processor. If you want to, you could add 1 tsp of coconut oil (healthy fat) or grass fed butter to the pan when frying the mushrooms. The paté is intensely flavored because of the amount of dried mushrooms: I used a mix from FungusAmongUs which contained shiitake, maitake, porcini, crimini, and oyster mushrooms.
This paté is versatile! In addition to serving it with toast or crackers, I like it stuffed into a pita pocket with some lettuce and tomato for a tasty lunch or snack.
The paté freezes well; fill individual jars and freeze for convenience.
Nothing goes to waste – you can give mushroom soup an added boost of flavor by mixing in leftover paté or you can make a tasty pasta sauce by bringing the paté to room temperature and then stirring it through hot cooked pasta. Top with chopped fresh basil and a splash of olive oil.
What’s good about this recipe
You can control your fat intake by making this versatile recipe three ways: fat free, or low fat using avocado or goat cheese.
Mushrooms are loaded with vitamins B, C, and D as well as beneficial minerals, fiber, and protein.
Mushrooms contain polyphenol and selenium, making them excellent sources of antioxidants.
Nutrition label for fat free mushroom paté
Nutrition label for low fat mushroom paté using avocado
Nutrition label for low fat mushroom paté using goat cheese