Why are foods with stuffing so incredibly appealing? In every cuisine in the world, there are dishes involving something stuffed into something else. Pierogi’s, bao, tortellini, empanadas, stuffed eggplant, peppers, cabbage. Need I continue? And then, of course, there is the controversy over whether or not to stuff the Thanksgiving turkey…
My speculation: I think there are a lot of reasons for the appeal. Most stuffed foods are, in fact, better than the sum of their parts, at least if they’re done properly. So there is the element of transformation. You take a lowly mushroom, saute’ the stems and some other things, pop the resulting mixture into the cap and bake it, and you have something party-worthy.
But I’m a psychologist who is also a potter. I am a huge fan of containers. We all started our very lives in a container and I think there is a wish inside of each of us to be safely contained, all warm, floaty and protected, once again. As a potter, I make vessels to hold objects, flowers, drink, food. As a psychologist, I try to provide a safe environment in which my clients can safely express their darkest fears and emotions. As a wife and mother, I do my best to offer a haven for my loved ones when they are sad, overwhelmed, or scared. When I am distressed, I want nothing more than to be held inside the strong arms of my partner, to feel held…to be…contained.
So, I guess it’s no surprise that I love to stuff stuff. On the blog, so far, I have given you Unstuffed Cabbage, but this is my first recipe for something with a filling. I can assure you (I know you are worried), it won’t be the last!
Best. Stuffed Mushrooms. Ever.
Did you know that portobellas are overgrown creminis? Or creminis are immature portobellas? The ones I found for this recipe are in between; about two inches across (maybe they are teenagers?). It is easy enough to adapt my instructions for larger or smaller mushrooms; just adjust the cooking time slightly.
6 big cremini mushrooms, about 2 inches diameter (or equivalent), rinsed and air dried
1 tbs. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 thick slice of your favorite bread, preferably Mindfulness Bread, lightly toasted
¼ cup toasted almonds
¼ cup dry white wine
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups baby spinach, cleaned and dried
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano*, plus ¼ cup extra for topping and garnishing
3-4 cherry or grape tomatoes, diced
salt and pepper to taste
*You may grate the parm using a microplane or any fine grater. But my favorite way to do it is to cut it into rough chunks and throw it into the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Run the processor until the cheese is finely ground. Some people might tell you that it loses flavor if you store it in this form, but I think you can get away with keeping it in a closed container for a week or so.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Rinse the dried mushrooms and place them in a small bowl. Pour the wine over them and microwave for 50 seconds. Set aside.
Gently, pull the stems out of the mushroom caps. Roughly mince the stems; place the caps, stem side up, on a parchment lined baking pan.
In a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan, saute’ the mushroom stems in the olive oil over medium heat for 2-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir; warm through. Now, throw the porcini and any liquid in the bowl into the pan. Cook over high heat for a few minutes. Add the spinach and cook until the leaves wilt. Season with salt and pepper. Let this mixture cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, crumble the bread into rough chunks and throw into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse to break down the bread. Add the almonds and run the processor until both almonds and bread are finely ground. Now, add the vegetables and pulse about 8 times. You want everything finely minced, but you still want a little texture; use my pictures as your guide. Now, dump everything into a bowl and add the 1/3 cup cheese and tomatoes and stir. Top with half the extra cheese.
Fill the mushroom caps. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked and the filling is browned. Serve with the remaining cheese.
These are great hot out of the oven, but they are also wonderful warm, or at room temp. We had them as part of a light supper with a little arugula salad and a fried egg.Oh, before you go off to buy the ingredients, would you do me a little favor? It will take just a couple of minutes…would you hop over to Saveur’s website and nominate the blog: https://debspots.com/blog/for a 2015 blog award? I will be so grateful!