Mushrooms in the Limelight!
This year I have really become hooked on to edible mushrooms; particularly the Portobello and extra-large Champignons or “white button” mushrooms that are cultivated and sold fresh at local farmers market here in Athens. They are incredibly versatile to cook and healthy too . . . high in fiber, vitamins and minerals as well as being fat-free, low sodium, low-calorie and cholesterol free and in season all year round!
Actually, I always say you can’t go wrong with mushrooms, unless you are allergic to them! With their mild taste and firm texture you can add them to soups, sauces, wraps, sandwiches stir-fry recipes, pasta or rice dishes as well as many one pot dishes and casseroles. The choices are endless and tempting . . . so be creative!
My favorite way to enjoy mushrooms is to slice them up raw and toss them in a salad. Grill, roast or sauté them with some top quality olive oil and fresh herbs or a few colorful ingredients to elevate the flavors and excite ones taste buds!
For something a bit more filling try my tasty stuffed champignons under a blanket of bubbling melted cheese (seen in 1st photo above). Here is the recipe:
Recipe for Stuffed Champignons
3 – 4 extra-large Champignons
2 medium Portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onion, blanched
1 large red Bell pepper
1 – 2 tblsp olive oil, or to taste
1 – 2 tblsp tomato ketchup or tomato paste, to taste
Fresh thyme, to taste
100 g grated Gruyere type of cheese (I used strong tasting Arsiniko (Graviera cheese from the Greek island of Naxos)
Ground black pepper, to taste
Optional ingredients: 1 mashed garlic clove, lemon zest and salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 200 ̊C (400 ̊F). Wipe the mushrooms over with a damp sheet of kitchen paper towel to clean off dirt and debris. Carefully break off stems of both types of mushrooms.
Chop stems extremely fine, discarding the tough ends. Place into a large bowl and set aside. Place Champignon caps into a lightly oiled oven proof dish while you make the filling.
Slice the Portobello mushrooms and place in mini blender and pulse until finely chopped. Remove diced mushrooms from blender and place into bowl with chopped stems.
Blanch onion in boiling water until soft. I normally do this in the microwave oven or in a small skillet. Drain and set aside. (Skip this step if you are not sensitive to onion.)
De-seed and slice red pepper and place in blender with oil. Pulse until you have a relatively smooth consistency and then add the drained onion, (garlic if using), tomato ketchup or paste and mix.
Add this pepper/tomato mixture to the diced mushrooms in bowl and mix. Add the fresh thyme, (lemon zest, if using), half of the grated cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper and mix.
This mixture should be quite dry but if needed, add a wee bit of olive oil and mix well.
Now, proceed to fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of the stuffing, using a small spoon. Place mushroom caps back into the ovenproof dish and top with the rest of the grated cheese. If you like, drizzle tops with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are piping hot, the cheese has melted and liquid starts to form under the caps.
Yield: 2 – 4 servings
This recipe can basically be used for any sized mushrooms. You can use the champignons as a filling for stuffing the Portobello mushrooms, or for example, to fill small champignon caps to serve as hors d’oeuvres. Just make sure to adjust the ingredient amounts and the cooking time accordingly!
If you like, you can use finely grated parmesan cheese for the filling and any other cheese for the topping. Again, just adjust the amounts to your taste preferences but remember . . . . don’t overdo it . .. and let the oven do it’s magic!
Depending on the cheese you use, you might not need to use salt in this recipe. I never use it!!!
For Vegans, instead of the cheese you can always top mushroom caps with Tofu.
©KaritasM – May 2021