Kirk purchased some lamb chops on sale this weekend and I used the opportunity to serve up what has become my favorite mushroom entrée. It’s a recipe that is a little labor intensive, so I was happy to pull some previously parboiled haricots verts from the fridge along with an already assembled green salad. (Just add dressing to the salad and toss the beans with butter, salt & pepper in a hot skillet.)
The mushrooms are hearty and punctuated with the rich flavors from cashews and a mix of gouda and cheddar. I used aged varieties of both cheeses with gorgeous flavors and compelling crystalline textures. I really do urge you to carefully consider your choice in cheeses when cooking. The abounding flavors of different varieties, the diverse textures, they make a significant difference in the overall quality of a dish.
As for the omnivore, not only did he enjoy a bit of my mushroom, but two petite lamb chops, also prepared on the grill. Sometimes I am so jealous of the ease of a meat entrée. Simply season with salt, pepper and, in this case, a little garlic powder, grill over medium heat and, ta-da, dinner! I know of very few equivalent vegetable dishes, but if I’m overlooking something, won’t you please let me know?
The most experimental part of our meal was the addition of sunchoke fries. This was the first time I’ve tried sunchokes. Honestly I hadn’t even heard of them until I recently read an article in Women’s Health. But after learning they are a nutritional powerhouse and noting the magazine’s suggestion that they are a “bikini friendly” substitute for potato fries, I couldn’t resist giving it a go.
I prepared the sunchoke fries as suggested: sliced into matchsticks, tossed with olive oil, rosemary, cayenne, salt and pepper. I was baffled when I opened the cayenne and realized the little plastic shaker top was MIA. (Undoubtedly a result of my hubbie’s enthusiasm for the spice and it’s typical generous portions in our dishes.) As a result, it seems that I may have overdone it. The fries were SPICY even by my East Texas/Western Louisiana standards. But, overall, they were a resounding average. They could have been crispier. They could have been better. But I’m not sure how. I’ll start looking for recipes to try them again, but if you have any experience with sunchokes, I definitely want to know.
Cheese and Cashew Stuffed PortobellosThe original recipe by Steven Raichlen suggests these stuffed mushrooms act as the foundation of a burger. While Mr. Raichlen’s aioli is a wonderful complement to the portobellos, it is actually impossible to get the mushroom + bun combo into your mouth. Moreover, the mushrooms are so good on their own and make such an elegant entrée it seems a waste to hide them in a bun. As the cashews are an inspired part of the dish’s taste profile, I double the original quantity as reflected below. As for cheese, I typically use what I have. Sometimes either Gouda or Cheddar, but most recently a blend of both.
6 large Portobello mushrooms (6 ounces each), stemmed and stems reserved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, minced
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted salted cashews
1/4 cup finely chopped dill or basil
4 ounces aged Gouda and/or Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup), plus 4 thin slices aged Gouda or Cheddar
Spray or brush the underside (gill side) of 4 of the Portobello mushrooms with olive oil. Cut the stems and the remaining 2 mushroom caps into 1/2-inch dice. Transfer the diced mushrooms to a food processor and pulse just until finely chopped.
In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the bell pepper, shallots and half of the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened and all of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes longer. Add the cashews and dill and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the shredded cheese and season with salt and cayenne.
Light a grill. When the fire is medium hot, brush the grate with oil. Grill the mushrooms, stemmed side down, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until softened and browned. Brush or spray the tops with olive oil and transfer them to a platter, stemmed side up. Pack the filling into the mushroom caps in a slightly flattened mound. Top with the cheese slices.
Return the mushrooms to the grill, filling side up. Cover and grill over a medium-hot fire until the cheese is melted and the Portobello bottoms are browned and cooked through, 5 minutes.