Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Olives and Caramelized Onions

I can think of no two meatier vegan foods than portobello mushrooms and olives - put them together, and you have an earthy, hearty entree.

  • 4 (4-inch) portobello mushroom caps
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 cups finely chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
  • 1/2 cup vegan dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped and pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 (1-ounce) slices white bread
  • 1/3 cup grated vegan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Remove the stems and gills from the underside of the portobello caps using a spoon; discard the stems and gills.  Place the mushrooms, stem side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool the mushrooms on a wire rack.

2. While the mushrooms cool, prepare the filling: heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute for 12 minutes.  Add the red wine, balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon thyme, and the salt; bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes.  Uncover and increase the heat to medium-high; cook for a final 5 minutes, until the liquid is all evaporated.  Stir in the kalamata olives, lemon rind, and black pepper.

Note: buy kalamata olives that are already pitted and you'll save yourself a lot of time.  Otherwise, place olives on a cutting board with the flat side of a chef's knife on top.  Whack the knife and the olives will pop open, making for easy pit extraction.

3. Meanwhile, place the bread slices in a food processor and pulse about 10 times - you should have coarse crumbs that measure about 1 and 1/2 cups.  Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, the cheese, and the flat-leaf parsley.  I wanted a sharp tasting cheese tonight that would mimic fresh grated Parmesan, so opted to use the strong cheddar from Sheese.  Sheese is a UK-based company, but you can order their products here through vendors like

4. Spoon about 3/4 cup of the olive mixture into each portobello cap, and top with about 1/2 cup of the breadcrumb mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until golden brown.  The easiest way to bake this dish - since the topping is piled quite high on each mushroom - is to place the wire rack directly over a baking sheet.  That way, you'll catch any crumbs that fall without creating a burning mess on the bottom of your oven.

Add a simple green salad on the side to round out the meal.  This dish would also be delicious with creamy mashed potatoes in winter weather.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 stuffed mushroom), Calories 246 

Tasting Notes:
My taste buds almost didn't know where to begin, since all three layers of this dish - the mushrooms on the bottom, the onion and olives in the middle, and the breadcrumbs on top - were delicious!  I would decrease the amount of onion slightly, since it overpowered the olives, and I would use larger 6-inch portobello caps so that all of that lovely topping stayed on top. I found that flattening the toppings down slightly with a spatula was a good way to get everything to stay inside. Use a good red wine for this dish - the flavor is quite pronounced.


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