Move over button mushrooms. Exotic varieties are becoming more and more popular, and are available at farmers markets and even local grocery stores.

In ancient healing traditions, mushrooms have always been one of the top medicinal foods, and now science is discovering why. Mushrooms contain potent antibacterial and antifungal compounds that are being studied for their benefits for liver, brain, heart and much more.

Dried mushrooms contain many of the same anti-inflammatory compounds as fresh, but the fresh ones typically contain them in greater abundance and they often taste better.

Two delicious exotics to try are oyster mushrooms and Maitake mushrooms, also called Hen of the Woods. The Maitake in particular is a very dense mushroom, so it’s great for grilling or searing like a steak.

To prep either mushroom, start by trimming off the tough bottom. Then use a damp paper towel to brush off any dirt. Don’t submerge them since they soak up water like a sponge and then won’t cook properly. Here’s a recipe that brings out the mushrooms’ flavor and creates a rich sauce.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

  • 12 ounces of whole grain pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound Maitake and/or oyster mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, garlic salt and black pepper. Cook four to five minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms soften and the garlic becomes fragrant. Turn off the heat.

Add the drained pasta and toss well. Add the yogurt and Parmesan and toss again. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

More information

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