WALNUT BAKED STUFFED MUSHROOMS

WALNUT BAKED STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Italian-style. Potent, rich and satisfying. Great as an appetizer, hot or cold, or as a main dish with marinara sauce and salad!

Makes 19 stuffed mushrooms plus 6 small meatballs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Stuffing:

4 c. fresh frozen bread crumbs (made from French baguette); I freeze the bread, then process it till crumbly, but that’s only because I like to have bread on hand; thaw bread a few minutes before processing; or make fresh crumbs if you like

½ c. Italian Nut Crumbles:

Makes 2-1/2 cups

1 c. walnut halves

1 c. whole raw almonds

2 t. garlic powder

2 t. sugar

1 t. salt

1 T. dried basil

1 T. ground fennel seed

1 T. dried tarragon

2 T. dried parsley

lots of fresh cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in food processor and process till fine, pushing down insides of container with spatula as needed. Transfer to jar and store in pantry to use as needed.

¼ c. corn oil

2 t. garlic powder

2 t. raw sugar

1 t. dried basil

½ t. dried oregano

lots of freshly ground black  pepper

½ t. salt

Place in large bowl: breadcrumbs, ½ cup Italian Nut Crumbles, corn oil, garlic powder, sugar, basil, oregano, black pepper and salt. Set aside, while you prepare the mushrooms.

16 oz. med.-sized white, button mushrooms (I used 19 but discovered I had enough stuffing for 6 more, so you might want to buy a few more mushrooms. Make sure they’re super fresh, firm and clean—no brown spots.)

Wash well. Drain in colander till dry; it won’t take long.

Remove stems and gently scoop out center residue with tip of teaspoon, then trim edges. Reserve all pieces and chop finely.

2 sm. yellow onions, finely chopped

2 t. corn oil

salt

1 c. unsweetened almond milk

In small skillet, over medium heat, melt oil. Add reserved chopped mushroom pieces and onion. Salt lightly, then sauté till mushrooms and onion are soft. Add to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir to distribute.

Add to the breadcrumbs the almond milk, ¼ cup at a time, stirring and mashing with a sturdy spoon till all milk is absorbed. Due to variations in bread crumbs, adjust amount of milk to your liking. What I wanted was a soft sticky stuffing, not crumbly—not too soft though.

Let stuffing set for 30 minutes, stirring and mashing again after 15 minutes. Adjust for salt.

Mushroom Caps:

Place mushroom caps in medium saucepan. Cover with water, cover tightly. Bring to boil for not more than 5 minutes. Immediately drain. Arrange caps rounded side up in colander and drain till cool.

Lightly oil baking sheet.

Place mushroom caps, hole-side up on lightly oiled baking sheet.

Pour a few tablespoons of corn oil into a small cup.

Dip a teaspoon (flatware, not measuring teaspoon) into the oil, shake the oil off, then scoop out about 2 tablespoons of stuffing from the bowl for each mushroom. Squeeze it together, compacting it, using your fingers, then roll it in the palms of your hands like you would a meatball. Place it snuggly onto the mushroom cap.

I made 6 small meatballs using the extra stuffing. Simply place them on the baking sheet with the mushrooms.

red cayenne pepper

additional oil

Sprinkle a very tiny bit of red cayenne pepper on each stuffed mushroom, plus a couple drops of oil on each.

Bake, uncovered, on middle rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, place on platter and serve. Garnish the platter if you like, with fresh parsley.

Notes: Always parboil mushrooms for stuffing. Watch them though, that they don’t overcook. You don’t want them to shrink up, only soften. I’ve had so many stuffed mushrooms at restaurants, where the stuffing was great, but the mushroom was raw, and the opposing textures didn’t make for a complete texture achievement.

If serving as an appetizer supply napkins; they’re oily. Don’t put toothpicks in them if served hot, but you can if served cold. They taste great either way.

Although you don’t need a dipping sauce for these mushrooms, if served as an entrée, I suggest spooning some marinara sauce onto the plate, then top with a few mushrooms. Serve with salad and wine, maybe  a side vegetable. Creamed spinach sounds good, or whatever suits you.

When chilled in the refrigerator they firm up and taste like cold Italian meatloaf. Steve made a sandwich out of a few cold ones, cut in half, on a Kaiser bun and loved it.

I use French bread for the coarser texture. The crusts don’t process very well, so use the insides. Buy it fresh for these mushrooms or freeze it like I do and the crusts process up nicely. Of course you want more bread than crust.

So, out of one recipe you have an appetizer, sandwich and entrée. How nice is that?

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