It’s amazing to me how you can grab the same vegetables, give or take, for an old recipe, but then bake them, season them, and present them just a little bit differently, and magically they become a whole new dish– with each new ingredient offering a little bit of unique pizazz that can completely transform a dish.
It has also been equally amazing to me how many of my carnivorous clients, family, or friends, have said… “Don’t you get bored of just eating vegetables?”
To which I answer… “uh. Don’t ya get bored of chicken?”
Vegetables have a lot personality, health benefits, and no one gets harmed.
This is why the kitchen is my playground.
And I play a lot with mushrooms.
Because. Well. I am single. And they are fun guys. 😉
The Mushrooms: (P.S. Oh! And you can totally do this recipe sans oil. It’s not necessary.)
2 large portabella mushrooms, gills (remove with a spoon) and stems discarded
1 tsp fresh garlic, minced (or 1 medium clove)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
6-8 medium sized shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
4 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot/warm water for 10 minutes, then water drained (place to the side)
1 tbsp fresh parsley, loosely packed (place to the side)
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp smoked sweet paprika, optional (save for plating)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On a non-stick baking sheet, lay out large portabella mushrooms, belly up, and also shiitake mushrooms. Sprinkle all mushrooms lightly with sea salt and black pepper. In each portabella cap (the center where the stem was removed), evenly divide minced garlic. Place in oven for 25-30 minutes on bottom rack.
Mushrooms are ready when portabellas are curling up at the edges, and a little liquid is pooling in the center. Shiitake mushrooms should be sweating but crisp. Because they are on the bottom rack, they should be drier and more meaty, as we are concentrating the flavors, and “dehydrating” them, as opposed to what would happen on the top rack.
Note: If not serving immediately, they can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days, in an airtight container, if layered between paper towels to collect moisture.
Bacon Crumble Assembly:
In a small blender, like the Magic bullet, pulse sun-dried tomatoes and shiitake mushroom until crumbly and well combined. Add olive oil, and parsley. Pulse again and put in a small bowl, and keep to the side. If not using a blender, finely chop mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes as small as possible, and then add in oil and parsley. Mix well. Set to the side until ready to plate.
Ratatouille Puree Filling:
1/2 cup small red onion, roughly diced
1/2-3/4 cup red bell pepper, roughly diced (about 1/2 medium pepper)
1/2-3/4 cup yellow bell pepper, roughly diced (about 1/2 medium pepper)
1/2 cup celery stalks, roughly diced (about 1.5 stalks)
2 medium cloves garlic, whole, peels removed
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil (optional)
With oven heated to 400 degrees…
On a non-stick baking sheet, lay out onion, bell peppers, celery, garlic and season with salt and pepper.
Place on top rack and bake for 25-30 minutes at the same time as mushrooms, or until edges of bell peppers are a light brown, and celery is soft and browning.
Carefully remove from the oven and scoop into a small blender (like the Magic Bullet) or a mixing bowl. If using a blender (ideal), pulse until you reach a desired consistency. (Ideally, a thick puree that still has noticeable pieces of vegetables, for added texture and color. “Chunky”, if you will. For lack of a better word). Add olive oil and pulse again. If using a mixing bowl, use a fork to mash all ingredients together, adding oil first, to ease mixing.
Note: Make ahead of time and store in a container in the fridge until ready to use– can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days, in an airtight container. Dish can be served at room temperature, or hot.
Serving: Plate mushrooms for serving, and then scoop a hearty amount of your veggie puree into each. Top with bacon crumbles.
To serve warm, or hot, place mushrooms on an oven safe dish, keep in the oven for 200 degrees for 12 minutes.
Sprinkle with extra fresh parsley for decor, and a generous sprinkle of smoked sweet paprika for smokiness and color.
And… if you are trying to turn someone on to eating more plants in general, feel free to top it with a local goat cheese, or non-dairy cheese of your choice.
This was the finished dish I created for neighbors of mine.
In fact, a little story on this recipe is that it originally was intended for a friend of mine who had to fly out of town. So… I changed up my ingredients a tad, added cheese and served it to two of my favorite taste testers. A lovely couple living next to my mother. The funny thing is… the husband, debated with his wife that I had included meat in this dish over dinner. I didn’t, of course… but this is how the Savory Shiitake bacon got it’s name.
Now go play in your kitchen. What I love about pureed recipes is that vegetable chopping need never be perfect, so this recipe can be made quickly, and relatively– “mess free.”