When I was young, I could not stand mushrooms. I don't know if it was the texture or the flavor that bothered me most. I find that many kids don't like mushrooms. I am not sure what happened but now that I am much older, I absolutely love mushrooms. I cannot believe I ever didn't like them in the first place because now they are among my favorite foods.
There is a restaurant I love to visit which offers sauted mushrooms as an appetizer. These mushrooms are cooked in a red wine sauce and taste amazing. They are so simple and such a treat. I just spread them out on toast and devour them with enthusiasm. Sometimes that is all I order there. Well, those and a nice glass of red wine and I am in heaven. In England, mushrooms on toast is a regular menu item.
At home, I use mushrooms all of the time as a meat substitute. Portobellos are fantastic with a little soy sauce and grilled. I like to eat them like this on their own. However, you can toss these on a bun with some tomato and lettuce to make a delicious mock burger. Mushrooms are the only non-meat item that comes close to mimicking the flavors of meat. That is why most veggie burgers contain mushrooms in them. They bring the savory "umami" character to the meal without using meat. If you do enjoy eating meat, mushrooms on top of a regular burger are also fabulous. They turn risotto or pasta into an easy to make dish that is so tasty. Just last night I enjoyed a satisfying and hearty bowl of creamy mushroom soup while out to dinner with Claud and his boss. It was so good.
Mushrooms are packed with nutrients. They are vital to those of us who eat very little meat. Mushrooms are filled with vitamins D and B. If you aren't getting enough sunlight, stock up on the mushrooms to get the much needed vitamin D to keep your spirits up. I read that mushrooms are the only vegetarian food source of vitamin D. Vitamin B provides energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. This plays a key role in our nervous system. Mushrooms also boost immunity and help provide resistance against allergies. So, although mushrooms are beneficial any time of the year, they are really important as our sunlight exposure lessens when we need more vitamin D from other sources and when our energy levels could use a boost. Keep them in mind throughout fall and winter months especially.
I made these spinach filled mushrooms as a snack for my family over the weekend. These could be great as an appetizer or a side dish too. I filled each mushroom with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar, which really made the flavors sing. The balsamic was the perfect compliment. I increased the nutrition level in these small portabello mushroom caps by blending together spinach, tomatoes, herbs, almonds, onions, and garlic. I didn't let anything go to waste either because I blended in the mushroom stems as well. These only take about twenty-five minutes to make and most of that time is just waiting for them to come out of the oven. Once they do, you will be glad you waited. They are so packed with flavor and were the perfect late afternoon snack. I put tomatoes in the mix and would probably use bell peppers next time. Daphne, who is not a fan of tomatoes, thought they tasted too much like tomatoes. I didn't think so, but I love tomatoes. So, if tomatoes aren't your thing, try using a red bell pepper instead. Or just eliminate the tomato all together. I liked using the tomatoes because they liquefied the mixture more. Therefore, whey you cut into the mushrooms it was like a delicious sauce or dressing. I am sure it would still taste delicious either way. The almonds give it a little crunchy texture, which was great. You could use cashews too. Try making it your own way. It's so much fun to experiment in the kitchen.
Spinach stuffed mushrooms
Time: 25 minutes
6 small portobello mushrooms
cup balsamic vinegar
6 cherry tomatoes, divided
1 cups raw spinach
2 cloves garlic, chopped
small onion, diced
teaspoon olive oil
tablespoon oregano, chopped
(you can use dried oregano)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the mushroom caps and remove the stems. Set stems aside to use later. Drizzle the balsamic into each cap and let this marinate while you prepare the filling. In a food processor, combine 4 of the tomatoes, mushroom stems, spinach, almonds, garlic, onion, olive oil and salt. Blend well. Slice the remaining tomatoes into small pieces. Spoon in the mixture evenly into each mushroom cap. Top with the slices of tomato. Place into the oven for 15 20 minutes. Take them out when the mushrooms have softened and the filling is slightly browned. Served as a snack, side dish or appetizer.