Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've Got a Winner!

It's nice to see us vegetarians getting a little attention every once in a while, but especially around the holidays. Trust me - it's no easy feat creating an enticing Thanksgiving meal that's both traditional and, well...turkeyless. But it CAN be done. While many people turn to slightly less traditional main courses for vegetarians, like this fantastic lasagna or this ravioli, I prefer to stay a little closer to mainstream Thanksgiving flavors. (You know, something savory that you could easily eat with gravy and mashed potatoes!)

One of my favorite things to serve at holiday time is a stuffed mushroom - large portabellas for a substantial main course, medium-sized creminis that work as a main or a side, or small mushrooms as an appetizer. They're flavorful, filling, and beautiful!

I have finally come up with a recipe that I'm really happy with. I made these for Early Thanksgiving with fairly large creminis (which are sometimes labeled as baby portabellas), but the recipe can be adapted to suit your needs.

Holiday Stuffed Mushrooms
  • 2 lbs. cremini mushrooms
  • About 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (maybe less)
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 small dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 T. (2-3 cloves) minced garlic
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted, then finely chopped or coarsely ground in a food processor
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 T. fresh sage, minced
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan
  • Salt & pepper
1. First prep the mushrooms by wiping them with a damp paper towel. Cut out the stalks and chop them to use in the stuffing. Then gently scoop out some of the gills to make more room for the stuffing, also reserving these to flavor the stuffing. Place the mushrooms on a greased baking sheet, cavity side down. Brush the back side of each with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Turn the mushrooms over and repeat with the tops and cavities of the mushrooms.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted add the cayenne, garlic, and shallots and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Then add the mushroom stalks and gills, season with salt and pepper, and saute another 4 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove the mixture from the heat, then mix in the herbs, cheese, and ground pine nuts. Adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Then stuff the mixture into the mushrooms, gently pressing it into the hollowed out center. (You can make them in advance up to this point, refrigerate them for up to 12 hours, then bake immediately before serving.)

4. If you use large cremini or mini portabellas, bake them for approximately 30 minutes. Larger portabellas will take approximately 40 minutes and small appetizer-sized mushrooms may take only 20 minutes. They are done when the mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is hot.


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