Dear Friends....I just won over a avowed mushroom hater with this recipe.
Baby Portabella Mushrooms stuffed with Pistachios & Sage
I came to my love of mushrooms late in life and when I say late, I mean it was only about two years ago that I realized what I've been missing out on. I've been playing catch up ever since to make up for all of the mushrooms I didn't eat. I've used them on my favorite bread- Carmelized Onion & Mushroom Flatbread, as the star of Mushroom Risotto, numerous stir fries, Arancini, Strata, and I've even gone hunting for them in a top-secret location.
Stuffed mushrooms have a tender place in my heart because it was a crab stuffed mushroom (yum!) that convinced me that my disdain for mushrooms was wrong. They are easy to make and can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until it's time to put them in the oven which makes them a wonderful appetizer. The variety of ingredients you can add to the filling make them versatile to accommodate almost anyone who likes mushrooms. A lot of people think they don't like mushrooms and I've found it's almost universally for the same reason:
They don't like the texture. Understandable; it IS off putting at first until you've eaten them often enough to get past the texture and realize the deep, earthy flavor of them and each type of mushroom has its own nuances of flavors. As I was strolling around Trader Joes, clutching my package of baby portabella mushrooms, I was thinking about some of the different types of mushrooms that I've eaten and how they taste. I turned down one aisle after another, thinking about shiitake, button and portabellas and by the time I got to the final aisle I was thinking about morels and their nutty taste.
Turns out, I was also in the nut aisle at Trader Joe's. It was destiny; immediately I knew that I simply had to stuff the portabellas I had in hand with nuts. I decided on pistachios after ruling out some of the others--peanuts were too strong tasting and would overpower the mushrooms, almonds too light and I've gotten it in my head lately that I like hazelnuts and pecans to go with sweet things. There were a few others but they seemed even less suitable to me. I wanted pistachios but I didn't know if I'd be able to shell enough (meaning not eat them as fast as I shelled them!) for my purposes but then I saw this wonderful bag of pistachio halves and pieces. The bag was half the weight of the bag of unshelled nuts and cost a dollar more but the ease of it was undisputable. I reasoned the shells were probably half the weight of the larger bag anyhow. I took them home.
I chopped and sauteed an onion in a bit of butter. Meanwhile, I separated the stems from the caps and minced the stems. The stems were tossed in a bowl with chopped pistachios and a few minced leaves of sage. Then, I added the onion mixture, a sprinkle of salt and just enough breadcrumbs for it all to come together. Each cap was stuffed within an inch of itself and the whole thing went into the oven to bake for forty five minutes.
The mushrooms came out tender, their flavors more intensified by the time spent in the oven. The stuffing complimented the earthiness of the mushrooms with the the crisp, buttery outside of the filling ,slighty sweet crunch of the nuts and the subtle hint of the sage blending it all together. I think it was the added crunch of the nuts that won over my mushroom hater; it distracted him from the the 'dreaded' mouthfeel of the mushroom. Turns out he liked it so well that it sparked a debate about who should get the last one-the long time mushroom lover? the recently turned mushroom lover? or the just this very minute mushroom lover? I won't tell you who was fast enough to fork the last mushroom up but I will share the recipe with you.
Pistachio Stuffed Mushrooms
1 package of baby portabella mushrooms (8-10 mushrooms)
1/3 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon of butter
3 tablespoons of finely chopped pistachios
2-3 sage leaves, minced
1-3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375. Brush mushrooms clean from debris and carefully separate the stems and caps.
2. Sautee the onion in the butter and while it is sauteeing, mince the mushroom stems and put them in a bowl. Stir in the chopped nuts and minced sage. When the onion is tender, add it and all of the butter to the bowl.
3. Stir the mixture with a small pinch of salt and a grate of pepper-more or less to personal taste- adding breadcrumbs little by little until the mixture begins to come together and there is no melted butter in the bottom of the bowl. You can test if it's coming together by gently shaping some into a ball; if it holds it is ready.
4. Spoon mixture onto each cap and using your fingers (or a spoon) cup it into a round dome. Place each cap, mixture side up in a greased casserole dish. When all of the caps are stuffed, bake in 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Serve hot!