Creamy mushroom with healthy béchamel and crispy zucchini
Time: prep. 10 mins
cook. 15 mins
Yields: 2 portions
This recipe for creamy mushroom with healthy béchamel is suitable for those who want to spend little time and money; but at the same time want to reward themselves with an elegant and nutrient-rich dish, without feeling weighed down.
Lately I am always short of time, both for shopping and cooking; since we are working on the renovation of our future houseboat, I feel even more sympathetic to those who return from work at dinner time…. dead tired.
Organization is the only real weapon in the revolution of eating healthy, ethically and without spending a fortune, but sometimes an unscheduled event happens (like guests arriving). That’s why you need to know recipes like this one for creamy mushroom with béchamel, which are easy to make and a guaranteed success, even at short notice.
The other reason I recommend it to you is that since I moved to a small but delightful town in Southern Italy, the foods that enriched and varied my diet of few animal products ‘quickly’, are no longer available to me. And mushrooms are perfect to compete with tempeh and seitan, not only for nutritional purposes but also for healthiness, sustainability, convenience and goodness.
Mushrooms, the meat of the poor (and those who want to give them up)
Speaking of nutritional values: Mushrooms may not beat pulses in terms of protein (about 3g, compared to 18g per 100g of pulses); but in spite of pulses, mushrooms contain an enviable amino acid profile, complete with all essential amino acids, on a par with meat or soya. This is precisely why mushrooms have had the same nickname in almost every language since ancient times: ‘poor man’s meat’.
In spite of the ‘belittling’ meaning, it must be said that, apart from bodybuilders and fitness radicals, hardly anyone eats meat to meet their protein needs, but rather for its taste (which is also very dependent on the level of umami it contains).
And do you know what other food is rich in the fifth taste? Mushrooms, and much more than grilled steak!
READ HERE TO FIND OUT HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY FOODS TASTE DELICIOUS WITH NATURAL GLUTAMATE
There is one last thing that makes them good meat substitutes, besides nutrients and taste: chewability.
When eliminating or reducing meat from the diet, there are few options left that can ‘satisfy the teeth’: pulses, tofu, vegetables, pasta, rice, cheese, eggs; but nothing like mushrooms can replicate the chewability of meat for 5 seconds. Thanks to their fibrous texture, they satisfy this atavistic need!
Nutritional properties and benefits of mushrooms
The characteristic of chewability brings us to another point in favor of mushrooms, namely the uncommon levels of fiber: beta-glucans, as well as chitin, help to lead a healthy and balanced diet and finally provide the necessary satiety feeling.
In addition, they also provide the body with mineral salts such as potassium, copper and selenium; and vitamins such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin D, A, E and the B group riboflavin, niacin, cobalamin and folate.
But mushrooms are much more than that: edible mushrooms contain a wide range of antioxidant molecules, such as phenolic compounds, polysaccharides, tocopherols, ergothioneine, carotenoids ; thanks to which mushrooms express anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antimicrobial, antiviral and even anti-allergic properties; as well as being, as mentioned above, powerful antioxidants.
From what you have read so far, it should be clear by now that whether you come home late or not, introducing more mushrooms into your diet is always a good habit.
For mushrooms with béchamel sauce you can use all kinds of mushrooms: champignons, pleurotus, cardoncelli, shiitake, cream or portobello, they are all perfect. And you need very few other (moreover seasonal) ingredients.
Ingredients for creamy mushroom with béchamel sauce
1 sweet (or normal) potato of approx. 200g, already cooked and mashed
200g zucchini, or pumpkin, or radicchio, or any vegetable you have at home
200ml of milk (or sugar-free plant-based milk, I normally use soya milk I make at home)
2 tablespoons grated cheese (optional, or vegan)
1 tablespoon wholemeal flour (preferably organic)
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of evo oil
1 pinch of salt (better to keep it low)
1 pinch of nutmeg
pepper to taste
Clean the mushrooms one by one; you can use a wet dish towel or, if very dirty, run them quickly under running water. After cutting them into slices leave them for 30 minutes under direct sunlight to increase their Vit D concentration (learn here more).
Then clean and thinly slice the zucchini, or dice the pumpkin, or cut the radicchio into strips.
Take a large frying pan, put in a little oil and sauté the vegetables. When they are sufficiently cooked (better soft inside and crispy outside) transfer them to a plate.
In the same frying pan, add another drizzle of oil and start cooking the mushrooms on a high heat, sautéing them frequently so as not to burn them. After about 6-7 minutes they will be perfectly cooked.
In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon of evo oil in a small saucepan, where you will turn lightly brown the flour on a low heat. When you start to smell the flour, add the milk slowly, stirring, better with a whisk, without ever stopping until it comes to the boil. When the light béchamel sauce comes to the boil, add the mashed potato and the pinch of nutmeg, lower the heat to low and let it cook for about 5 minutes.
You are now ready to compose the dish: you can put everything together in an oven dish and put it under the grill for a few minutes, perhaps adding some wholemeal breadcrumbs and/or cheese.
Or serve it disassembled as the photo suggests: put a few tablespoons of béchamel sauce on the bottom, add some vegetables and mushrooms, then again some béchamel sauce, then vegetables and mushrooms, until you run out of ingredients. Serve the dish with a little freshly chopped parsley and 1 tablespoon of grated string cheese between the layers.
Creamy mushroom with béchamel provide a good amount of complex carbohydrates along with protein thanks to the mushrooms, milk (plant-based or cow’s) and cheese (if you have opted for this). You can serve them after a very elegant, no-bake savory pie, or a pasta with legumes, or together with chickpea crepes.
Of course, if you wish to pair them with a dessert, you can do so without hesitation: millet cake would fit right in, both to boost protein requirements and to complete a refined dinner made with humble and resilient ingredients.
Enjoy your creamy mushroom and good revolution to all
1) Cheung, P. C. K. “The nutritional and health benefits of mushrooms.” Nutrition Bulletin 35.4 (2010): 292-299.
2) Irene Roncero-Ramos, Cristina Delgado-Andrade, The beneficial role of edible mushrooms in human health, Current Opinion in Food Science, Volume 14, 2017, Pages 122-128, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cofs.2017.04.002.