• Microbigals

Perfect For Summer : 10 Minute Mushroom Arugula Salad

Salads are typically not on everyone's favorite list, but if you know how to jazz it up you can sure make a tasty delicious microbial tastebud salivating salad.

Today, we will talk about just such a recipe. This is a warm salad, but there's something about the arugula and balsamic vinegar that still makes it perfect for the summer. The best part is that it takes 10 minutes to cook!

Fungi Foods | Microbes in Food |


  • Some walnuts (~½ cup)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Arugula (basically no calories and nothing bad so have a whole bunch!)

  • Dried cranberries (these can be high in sugar. Just enough for a flavor punch ~½ cup)

  • ~ 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

  • Olive oil or other oil for sauteing the mushrooms

  • Mushrooms (we did a three mushroom blend oyster, baby bella and shiitake, ‘cause we fancy like that)

  • 2-4 garlic cloves


  1. Heat the walnuts over medium heat in a dry pan. In a few minutes they will become very aromatic and darken slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

  2. Heat the oil in the same pan at medium heat. Add the mushroom blend, salt, pepper, garlic or any other seasoning you desire. Saute, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms release their liquid.

  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients and toss until well-incorporated. Top with toasted walnuts.

Fungi Foods | Microbes in Food |

So now that you have a delicious and nutritious arugula mushroom salad, let’s talk about the diversity of our fungal foods. Mushrooms are a highly diverse group, consisting of a number of edible varieties from backyard to exotic.

There’s also a number of toxic and hallucinogenic mushrooms, but that’s a post for another time. Although these mushrooms are not microbial, I included them because (i) they are delicious (ii) they are fungi (iii) I love them (iv) it’s my blog and I do what I want!

Fungi Foods | Microbes in Food |

There are 9 main groups of edible mushrooms including cremini, button, shiitake, morel, lion’s mane (see this post for some coffee with lion's mane), oyster, portobello, enoki, and porcini.

Crimini, portobello and white button all come from the same delicious family of mushrooms and are some of the most consumed mushrooms in the world. In fact, they are all different life stages of Agaricus bisporus. White buttons are the babies, cremini are the hip, agile 20 something year olds and portobellos are our over-the-hills.

Creminis are rich in selenium, riboflavin(B2), and copper. Buttons and portobellos are rich in riboflavin, niacin and copper.

Morel mushrooms kind of look like dates or honeycombs and are hard to grow in bulk, so they are less available. They are rich in iron, vitamin D and copper. Shiitake might be my favorite mushroom; these mushrooms are often featured in Asian, particularly Japanese cuisines, and are high in copper and pantothenic acid.

Pleurotus eryngii, or the oyster mushroom looks like coral. Porcini (Boletus edulis) looks very much like a smurf house or your typical cartoon mushroom but with far less color. These thick mushrooms are a bit on the chewy side and are high in niacin and riboflavin.

Lion’s mane was recently featured in our coffee microbiome post and is similar to morel mushrooms. They look kind of like tribbles, and we all know there can be trouble with tribbles.

I’ve always thought enoki mushrooms look like a mushroom bouquet. These mushrooms are often featured in Chinese and other Asian cuisines and have a noodle-like appearance and are high in niacin, folate, and thiamine.

Mushrooms are fairly easy to cook and have a diverse flavor profile, they are also healthy and full of some potentially great health benefits (including some benefits to your own microbial incubator you call your gut).

Most edible mushrooms are celebrated for having medicinal properties such as being anti-allergic, anti-cholesterol, anti-tumor, and anti-cancer. Some of the most medicinal mushrooms, reishi, chaga, Coriolus versicolor, and Maitake are thought to enhance the immune system, suppress disease or have healing properties.

Most mushroom are rich in microbial food such as β an

d ɑ-glucans, manna, xylans, galactans, chitins and hemicellulose. And when you feed your microbes, they are more willing to make you happy by helping to prevent diabetes, obesity and cancer.

In microbiology, microbial food products can be grouped into 3 different categories. We call foods that feed your microbes prebiotics. Food and food-like substances that contain healthy microbes to line your gut are called probiotics. Food products that contain both the healthy microbes and their food are called synbiotics.

You want to keep your microbes happy because they are important contributors to your metabolism, energy levels, and immune system regulation.

Of the mushrooms we have discussed, white button mushrooms are one of the easiest mushrooms to find, have been shown to diversify your gut flora and to stimulate your immune response, improving your gut health. Another study (in mice) showed white button mushrooms can encourage your Prevotella to produce propionate and succinate, which are short chain fatty acids, compounds linked to liver glucose regulation.

As a microbiologist and health enthusiast, I would say be wary of all the pro/pre-biotic labels found on all kinds of packaged foods and always opt for healthy whole foods to feed your gut! As someone who’s researched and tried about a dozen different diets, I don’t think there is a single one that bans mushrooms.

Fungi Foods | Microbes in Food |


Penn State. Using mushrooms as a prebiotic may help improve glucose regulation. Science Daily (2018)

Jayachandran, M., Xiao, J. & Xu, B. A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota. Int. J. Mol. Sci.18, (2017)

9 Delicious Types of Edible Mushrooms. Nutrition Advance https://www.nutritionadvance.com/types-of-edible-mushrooms/ (2018)

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