Sunday, April 17, 2016

Recipe of the Month: Stuffed Shrooms

Brian and I go through a lot of mushrooms. Since we don't eat a lot of meat, mushrooms make a pretty good way to add bulk and texture to our usual vegetarian fare, such as pasta and eggs. We buy most of our mushrooms from the Whole Earth Center in Princeton, where the organic white button mushrooms sell for just $2.29 a pound. That's quite a bit less than our local supermarkets usually charge for conventional mushrooms that come in plastic packages, and as a bonus, they don't leave us with a plastic package to dispose of. So pretty much every time we visit the Whole Earth Center, we make a point of grabbing a pound of mushrooms along with whatever other bulk items we need.

On our last visit to Whole Earth, Brian discovered that some of the mushrooms in the white button bin were unusually large. This inspired him to try an idea he'd been toying with for some time: stuffed mushrooms. We had this recipe for an appetizer called spinach balls, made by mixing Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix (it really has to be Pepperidge Farm, apparently) with chopped spinach and some eggs for a binder, and Brian thought a variant of this mixture might make a good stuffing for the shrooms. And as it happened, we already had half a package of the stuffing mix on hand, left over from a previous batch of the spinach balls, so this was a perfect time to try the experiment.

For the stuffing, Brian made some modifications to the basic spinach ball recipe, based on what we had available and what he thought would work best with the mushrooms. He ended up with this:

BRIAN'S SPINACH-STUFFED SHROOMS

Remove the stems from 10 large white mushrooms and chop them. Dice 1/2 red onion, mince 1 clove garlic, and sauté all the veggies in a pan until they start to soften. Add 4 oz. chopped frozen spinach and sauté until all the veggies are soft.
In a bowl, mix 4 oz. Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing Mix, 1 jumbo egg, 1/4 vegetable stock, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir in the sautéed veggies.
Spoon this mixture into the mushroom caps and bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes or until browned.

These proved to be reasonably tasty, but somewhat difficult to eat. These mushrooms were too big to treat as hors d'oeuvres, picking them up and munching them down in a single bite, so we had to eat them with a knife and fork—but unfortunately the cooked mushrooms were rather slippery, so when we sliced into them, the stuffing would slide off the base. So we ended up attempting to spear the slice of mushroom and the escaped stuffing on the fork together in order to eat them as a unit. Once I managed to get everything it into my mouth, the flavors worked together pretty well, but I kept wishing that the stuffing mixture had been stuffed into something else that would hold it more securely.

Given that this recipe is a bit time-consuming to make, and given that we know so many other good things to do with mushrooms that are just as tasty and a lot easier, I don't think we're likely to make this particular dish again. But we'll probably keeping the recipe for the stuffing mixture on hand, since it might work well in some other context. Perhaps we could stuff it into some other veggie, like peppers or squash, or perhaps we could just stuff it into a casserole dish and eat it plain. If we can figure out a matzo-based equivalent for the Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, we could even make a version of it for Passover next week.
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