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The Perfect Hearty Meal for a Cold Winters Night

The Perfect Hearty Meal for a Cold Winters Night

By Rhianna Quanstrom, Contributing Blogger

As the daylight grows shorter and the nights continue to lengthen, you might find yourself naturally transitioning with the season. That transition could be wanting to wind down earlier with the setting sun, and you might find your appetite growing quite a bit too. These are natural changes and should be celebrated with hearty, nutritious, and delicious meals. 

One of my favorite hearty meals, especially on cold winter nights, is pesto chicken pasta. Recently, I wanted to take it one step further in nutritional and medicinal quality by adding the amazing Lion’s Mane Mushroom. 

Not only is Lion’s Mane a functional food; packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein, but I also consider it a ‘food’ for the brain. Studies have shown that Lion’s Mane Mushrooms improves cognitive function by protecting and repairing neural pathways in the brain. This property of Lion’s Mane is being considered for use as a preventive in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 

Pretty incredible, right? Plus, fall and winter is the traditional time to harvest wild Lion’s Mane, depending on where you live. Fresh, locally harvested mushrooms are always ideal, so try looking for locally harvested lion’s mane next time you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market. 

For this recipe, I used freshly bought Lion’s Mane that was then turned into flat strips using a tortilla press. Because Lion’s Mane has high water content, they cook better and will be more crispy if flattened. 

Chicken Pesto Fettuccine with Lion’s Mane Mushroom Recipe 

Servings: App. 8 

Prep Time: App. 10 to 15 minutes 

Cook Time: App. 30 minutes 

Pesto ingredients: 

  • 2 cups fresh basil 
  • 2 cups fresh spinach 
  • ½ cup raw cashews* 
  • 6 garlic cloves* 
  • Half a lemon juiced 
  • ¾ to 1 cup olive oil* 
  • ¼ to ½ cup Parmesan cheese (optional) 
    - Can substitute nutritional yeast 
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine the above ingredients and pulse until the pesto texture is smooth and creamy. Check it every so often and mix in the cashews that have come up on the sides of the blender/food processor. Add more oil as needed. 
  2. Set aside. 

Chicken Pesto Pasta Ingredients: 

  • 2 large chicken breasts 
  • 1 packet of organic, whole wheat, or egg fettuccine noodles (about 16oz) ● 1 to 2 cups of homemade pesto (see recipe above) 
  • 2 to 3 large fruiting bodies of Lion’s Mane Mushroom 
  • 1 tbsp oil of choice 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp dried basil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Parmesan cheese (optional) 
  1. The chicken breasts can be cooked either on the grill, in the oven, or in a pan on the stove. For this recipe, we cooked the chicken breasts on the grill. a. While the grill is preheating, season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and basil 
  2. Once the grill reaches 500 degrees, turn heat to low and cook chicken on both sides for approximately 10 minutes, until the internal heat reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  3. Each grill is different so cook times will vary. 
  4. Once cooked they can be shredded or cut into smaller chunks to add to the pasta. 
  5. Start the fettuccine noodles on the stove and follow the instructions on the packaging. 
  6. Prepare a pan for the Lion’s Mane Mushroom by turning it on low heat and adding 1 tbsp of oil. I used walnut oil for this recipe. 
  7. Slice the Lion’s Mane into thin strips and flatten to expel the excess water content. Add to the preheated pan. Turn the burner up to medium-high heat. Sear the strips on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
  8. We use a tortilla press to flatten the strips to make extra crispy and yummy mushrooms bits. 
  9. Once the noodles are done and strained, add the pesto to the noodles, thoroughly mixing it in until the noodles are well coated. Start with less pesto and add more as desired. Mix in the chicken and lion’s mane mushrooms. Set Parmesan out as a topping to add to your plate. Enjoy! 

Notes*: 

One of the things I love about pesto is how interchangeable the ingredients can be! The cashews can be substituted for a different nut of choice, such as walnuts or pecans. 

I’m a bit crazy about garlic, so I tend to add more to my recipes. If you want less garlic flavor, simply decrease the amount of garlic used. 

The olive oil can be substituted for a different oil of choice as well, and the Parmesan can be opted out altogether. If you want to make this recipe dairy-free but still want to add a ‘cheesy’ flavor to it, try adding some nutritional yeast instead. 

This recipe can easily be made vegan, simply leave out the chicken and use whole wheat pasta noodles. Try adding some other vegetables to bulk it up a bit more like zucchini or broccoli. 

Because this recipe is so versatile, you can truly make it your own. Now, it’s time to settle as the darkness settles across the land and enjoy your healthy, nutritious, and oh-so-yummy home-cooked pesto pasta!

 


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