Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms (plus Sausage and Pasta)

Don't you hate those days, the days when you never slow down but the project list is no shorter? Yesterday was a really busy day, full of a ton of little projects, but few of them on the official To Do list. Oh yes, one of those days.

Suddenly it was late and we were hungry, really hungry. I didn't have a menu plan but the fridge held some fresh produce and several small containers of previously cooked "stuff". I explored refrigerator shelves and freezer drawers, mentally tasting a variety of possibilities. You know, the food memory experience, when you consider an ingredient, tasting it in your mind and almost on your tongue.

Creating Italian something was the solution. I stuffed five large mushrooms with a braise of kale, chopped mushroom stems and yellow onions, marinated fresh mozzarella balls, garlic and other seasonings. A partially full jar of mushroom and sausage spaghetti sauce mixed with the last portion of my homemade basil fettuccine and topped the mushrooms. Three spicy Italian sausages joined the party and it was oven-ready, almost a whole meal in one baking dish. For dessert we enjoyed some Clementines. 

These were pretty tasty items to enjoy at the end of one of "those days". Comfy in my sweats and slippers, it was certainly more relaxing than going out for dinner. What do you eat when you are tired and pressed for time?

 Photo: Basil and oregano top mozzarella top the kale and onion stuffing inside partially cooked 'shrooms on top of basil fettuccine mixed with 'shroom and sausage spaghetti sauce.

 Photo: Additional spaghetti sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese top the dish.

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms
served 2

5 or 6 large crimini mushrooms (not portabella-sized)
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
stems of the mushrooms, chopped small
1 small onion, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch kale, cut off stem and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
pinch of dried basil and oregano
1/2 carton (about 3/4 cup) marinated fresh mozzarella balls (small)
1/8 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese to top (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel to clean. Remove and dice the stems. Set the stems aside,
  3. Lightly brush the outside and inside of the caps with olive. Place in a baking dish or pie pan, hollow side up, and bake about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  4. In a small skillet heat the olive oil. Saute onion and garlic until softened, not browned. Add the kale, mushroom stems, basil and oregano, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of water; cover and cook over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes. Uncover and saute until the kale is wilted and the pan is nearly dry. Remove from the heat, set aside and cool to room temperature.
  5. Thinly slice or dice the mozzarella and add to the cooled mix in the skillet (reserving some cheese to top the 'shrooms); toss to mix well. Use a spoon to fill the mushroom caps, packing lightly to form mounded tops.
  6. Spray a baking dish with PAM, or oil lightly. Place the filled mushroom caps in the dish; top with Parmesan and the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. OR... 
  7. Mix 2 servings of pasta (cooked al dente) with a generous amount of prepared spaghetti sauce and cover the bottom of a small oiled baking dish. Place the filled mushroom caps on top of the sauced pasta, spoon more spaghetti sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan and the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. 

Note: Adding some chopped currants, red pepper flakes, black pepper and capers to the stuffing mix sounds tempting for the next improvisation.

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