Mezze - A spread of various vegetable and meat dishes that commonly act as a starter to a larger feast in Middle Eastern countries ... reminiscent of Spanish tapas or French hors d'oeurves.
This evening was just such a nice, cozy affair ... it rained and got cool and drafty. SB and I were beat from spending the afternoon in a blackberry patch, picking berries for jams and a few nice desserts. By the time we were headed for home, the rain had started and we just wanted an easy vegetarian supper and some candlelight and wine. We had all these gorgeous vegetables sitting on the kitchen counters. I was hot to make these Ottolenghi portobella mushrooms, but I didn't want great big flying saucer-types, so we stopped at the market and found smaller 'baby bellas' to stuff with this wonderful vegetable and herb combo that Yotam Ottolenghi lists in his cookbook called Plenty.
Sweet onion, celery and celery leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, tarragon, and basil ... softened and melded with a bit of light olive oil and salt and black pepper. Tossed with some grated Parmesan and left to cool down and develop into a gooey filling. Baby portobella mushrooms rubbed up with a bit of olive oil and then turned cap up and roasted for about five minutes in a hot oven ... flipped and stuffed with the filling and baked with a slab of Fontina atop. Mmmm-mmmm good!
The beauty of this dish is that one can start the filling and while it cools down, make a quick salad or work on another mezze plate - awesome strategy if one is cooking for a little party of snackers. Making the dish with smaller mushrooms makes for a sizable platter of small bites for party folk. I halved the recipe and we opted for a nice green salad of vegetables ( Yay! Use those tomatoes and cukes !) from the garden and a side of summer squashes sauteed with onions, herbs and pine nuts. This time of year? It's ALL about the vegetables!
This dish brings me back to The I Heart Cooking Club and the weekly posts that honor the work of Yotam Ottolenghi. I have been so busy in my everyday world that my IHCC posts have fallen by the wayside, but this week, it just seemed a perfect time to return to the fold. Check out what other participants are making to contribute to Mezze Madness ...
Stuffed Portobellas with Melting Fontina (or Taleggio)
a slightly adapted Ottolenghi recipe
4 very large (or 20 two bite-sized Baby Bellas) portobella mushrooms
4 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 small sweet white onion, tiny dice
1 large celery stalk with leaves, tiny dice
2 c. sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh minced tarragon leaves
4 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, minced
3 ½ oz. Fontina or Taleggio cheese, cut into slabs to cover the filled mushrooms
Making the Dish:
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray an ovenproof platter with olive oil cooking spray.
- Pull the stems out of the mushrooms and rub them clean with your fingers or a paper towel. Set them cap side up on the prepped baking pan.
- Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan and add the onions, celery, tomatoes, and garlic. Sauté gently until the onions and celery glisten and the tomatoes have softened – about five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the tarragon leaves and basil on a cutting board and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over top. Chop to create a fine cheese and herb mixture.
- Toss the cheese and herbs over the vegetables and remove from the heat. Toss to combine and let the cheese melt and the mixture cool.
- Brush the mushroom caps with some olive oil OR spritz them with the olive oil cooking spray. Roast them for five minutes in the preheated oven.
- Remove the mushrooms after the five minutes, flip them over and fill them with the vegetable mixture. Top each mushroom with a slab of the Fontina cheese and return them to the oven to roast for ten minutes or until the cheese is melting and gooey.
- Garnish the mushrooms with a bit more chopped basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve piping hot.