by Ernest Barteldes
No, not that magic. Ever since I began cooking, I’ve had a thing about using mushrooms. During my Brazilian years, however, I had to make do with the preserved kind, since you couldn’t find fresh mushrooms in supermarkets there (I hear that has changed, and that select food markets actually carry them nowadays).
Mushrooms are incredibly versatile because they work with practically every meal, going from omelets or frittatas at breakfast, in salads, appetizers or sides like stuffed mushrooms or main courses such as vegetarian lasagna or a stroganoff. Also considering the many varieties in the market (portabella, enoki, shitake, Parisian, to name a few) the possibilities are practically endless.
Among the favorites that I make at home are stuffed mushrooms, an appetizer that I learned to make after visiting a now-closed Spanish restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. The preparation is a little labor-intensive, but the results are great, since it tastes great. Also, it always puts a big smile on Renata’s face every time I make them.
10-12 medium to large mushrooms
¾ cup breadcrumbs or panko
2 garlic cloves, minced
Dried oregano or basil to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
- Carefully remove stems from mushrooms. Chop the stems finely and reserve caps.
- Sauté garlic in ½ tbsp. olive oil until fragrant, and add chopped stems. Continue stirring until mushrooms release their liquid, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Add breadcrumbs and dried spices to mushroom mix. If too dry, add a little olive oil.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spoon breadcrumb mix to holes in caps.
- Arrange stuffed mushrooms on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes until mushrooms are browned. Serve hot or at room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil.