Create Your Own Bite #9
Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms served over Bulgur Wheat
Adapted from a Veg Lite recipe first printed in the October 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times.
3 Medium-sized White Mushrooms, Stemmed
1/2 White Onion, Finely Chopped
2 Cups Baby Spinach
2 Ounces Goat Cheese
2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
3 Clove Garlic, Minced
1 Cup Bulgur Wheat, dry
1 Teaspoon Basil
Add Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste.
This recipe makes 3 servings, with approximately 1/2 cup of bulgur per person.
Estimated Calories: 200
A last minute dinner plan meant a number of adaptations and substitutions for the recipe that initially called for leeks instead of onions, portobello instead of white mushrooms, thyme instead of basil, and farro instead of bulgur.
With the original recipe from Vegetarian Times in mind, my good friends and I set about preparing our veg-friendly dinner.
After heating the oven to 400 degrees, start by dusting the “gill sides” of the mushrooms with salt, pepper, and a little drizzle of olive oil. Bake “gill sides” down on a baking sheet for approximately 10 minutes. The mushrooms will begin to soften and darken as they cook.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan and sautee the onion, garlic, and basil. When the onions begin to turn transluscent, add the spinach, cooking until it has wilted down. At this point, incorporate the goat cheese. The original Vegetarian Times recipe calls here for 1 tablespoon of pine nuts; we didn’t have any on hand, but this additional ingredient would add a contrasting crunch and extra nuttiness to the dish.
Once the goat cheese has melted into the spinach mixture, stuff the mushrooms and heap the excess on top. At this point, start cooking the bulgur wheat – it will take about the same amount of time to prepare as the mushrooms will take to finish in the oven. Bake the stuffed mushrooms for an additional 15 minutes – thicker mushrooms, like the portobellos the original recipe called for, may take longer. Just watch until the mixture on top begins to brown and carmelize. The bulgur wheat will have absorbed the water after simmering for the duration of the baking.
The Vegetarian Times recipe, which initially called for farro, suggests mixing the cooked grain with a teaspoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a teaspoon of grated lemon zest. Quite by accident, we overlooked this last step, as the mushrooms had come out of the oven and smelled delicious, and the bulgur was nutty and sweet on its own. The lemon we picked up at the market sat forgotten on the counter – but feel free to try this step, as the folks at Vegetarian Times do know what they’re talking about.
Serve one third of the bulgur with one of the mushroom, and dig in. This low calorie dish is savory and earthy, and is a fun dish to prepare with friends. My father took his own spin on the dish a week later, breaking the recipe down even more and dividing the mixture into many small button mushrooms to serve as an appetizer at a party.
Adapting recipes, and putting your own spin on them, is always fun to try, too. Make due with what you have, create a healthier version, or adapt a recipe to your dietary lifestyle. Make this recipe gluten-free by serving with rice instead of bulgur, grain-free by reviving the Cauliflower Couscous recipe I shared with you in May, or vegan by holding off on the goat cheese. In our case, the bulgur wheat may have been an accident, but it was a healthy, delicious surprise.
Until next time, I’m off to find another surprising bite.