Mediterranean Stuffed Mushrooms
as a Meal
By Charlie Burke
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We had a snowy Saturday last week, and having some large white mushrooms in
the refrigerator let me escape food shopping. I decided to stuff them as the main
course for dinner and to do a meatless preparation. We had some Spanish Piquillo
peppers which were packed whole and look like fire engine red squid bodies. They
are prized for their intense flavor in Spain and are often served stuffed. In this
recipe they became the focus of the stuffing.

I find starting with a single ingredient can lead to developing a new preparation
using other compatible products from the region, in this case Spain and
neighboring Mediterranean countries. Smoked Spanish paprika (La Chinata brand
from Extremadura in the west) added a rich background taste, and from there the
rest of the ingredients easily fell into place.

Usually, when I develop a new recipe it takes some tweaking, but this one was so
good we ate them again for lunch the next day. If smoked paprika or piquillo
peppers are unavailable, substitute Hungarian paprika and jarred smoked red
peppers. This will work very well with portabella mushrooms, as well.

Four servings:

8 large (4” diameter) white mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
½ cup chopped black olives, calamata or oil cured
1 ½ tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped Spanish piquillo red peppers
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked 10 minutes in 2 cups very hot water
1 cup dry red wine
½ teaspoon cayenne or to taste
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika (regular paprika may be substituted)
1cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup, plus extra for topping, grated hard cheese, such as Pecorino Romano,
Parmesan or aged Asiago
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove dried mushrooms from soaking water and chop into ¼ - ½ inch pieces.
Strain soaking water through a strainer lined with a paper towel and reserve.

Over moderate heat, sauté mushroom stems, garlic and shallot in olive oil with
oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. When softened but not browned, add 1 cup of
mushroom water, chopped dried mushrooms, red wine and tomato paste and boil
until liquid is reduced to a glaze. Stir in olives, piquillo peppers and cayenne and
add bread crumbs mixing well. Remove from heat and mix in grated cheese. Taste,
adding salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

Place mushrooms into an oiled shallow baking dish and mound each with filling
and grate a generous amount of cheese over the top of each. Pour remaining
mushroom liquid into dish and cook in a preheated 400 degree oven until
mushrooms are tender and dressing is browned. Pour any liquid over the
mushrooms and serve

We served this with roasted plantains and a salad, but
potato pancake or risotto
would go well. A full bodied dry red wine from the Rhone region is a match, as
would be a Rioja from Spain. This is a really flavorful dish, and nobody seems to
miss the meat.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association (
and helps run the Sanbornton Farmers' Market. Along with his wife, Joanne, he
grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill Farm in
Sanbornton, NH.  
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