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Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms

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The pick up appetizer that’s a party-pleaser, your guests will ask you for the recipe! Ring in the New Year with these make-ahead delicious morsels.

Many savory vegetables with chicken, smoked mozzarella and roasted eggplant are baked into these pick-up mushrooms
Just a pinch of garlicky- breadcrumbs top these baked mushrooms

These are my favorite stuffed mushrooms ~ I’ve added flavors from the Tuscany region of Italy… and love the fact that Tuscans expect to eat produce that is locally grown, in season and at the peak of ripeness.

There is no end to the delicious ingredients you can use to stuff the mushrooms. Mushrooms are meaty, savory and add instant umami – the fifth ‘taste’ after sweet, salty, bitter and sour.

A favorite party food – stuffed mushrooms are satisfying and these take on an Italian, Tuscan flair.  A hearty chicken, vegetable & cheese filling – you can also have a satisfying entrée instead of an appetizer.

I will tell you exactly what I have stuffed these Tuscan mushrooms with, and offer a myriad of suggestions to creatively and correctly add the ingredients you either have on hand, or enjoy.

Ingredients:
Mushrooms: White Button Mushrooms
Grain: Farro (traditionally Tuscan), or Short Brown Rice for Gluten-Free
Vegetables: Eggplant, Peppers, Leeks, Shallots, Garlic,  Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes (for topping – optional )
Seasonings: Fresh Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Basil and Parsley
Cheese: Smoked Mozzarella (can use Pecorino)
Dry Breadcrumbs: Regular or Gluten-Free
Chicken: Grilled and topped with fresh Thyme – chopped

These ingredients together make a satisfying filling/stuffing for mushrooms.
The eggplant is roasted, and it’s smokey pulp is blended into the other ingredients – keeps all the ingredients from drying out!
A bit of chicken makes them hearty – a few can turn from a nibble into a meal. Simply omit the chicken for wonderful Vegetarian stuffed mushrooms… omit cheese and add extra vegetables for Vegan stuffed mushrooms.

Create your own flavor combination, you can also add these: Spinach, Olives,  Cannellini Beans (substituting for the grain), Tomatoes, Asparagus and Artichokes.

White button mushrooms are plentiful in markets and are simply the youngest variety of mushrooms. If you love Cremini Mushrooms  – use them! They are a more mature version of the button variety with a darker color and a little more robust flavor.

Much of the cuisine of Tuscany is ‘cucina rustic’ (rustic cuisine) this is comfort food at its best.

Tuscan cooking doesn’t use complicated seasonings or elaborate creations because they’re not needed. Instead it’s made using fresh, high-quality ingredients that bring out the natural flavors in each dish, simple or not.

Fresh ingredients guarantees that the resulting food’s flavors will shine, despite a lack of rich sauces or elaborate decorations. Tuscan cuisine is known for its dishes redolent with herbs and spices.

Healthful properties of Mushrooms:
High in fiber and vitamins, mushrooms are also fat- and cholesterol-free. They’re popular around the world due to their versatility as well as their meatlike heft and texture. In addition to making your mouth water, mushrooms also have surprisingly high nutritional value. They are low in calories, high in fiber and protein (20-30 percent of the dry weight) and contain many important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B and D, copper, selenium and potassium.
Praised mushrooms from the Tuscany region are Chanterelle and Porcini mushrooms.

Tuscan wines are excellent and varied: (Pair the mushrooms with on of these.)
Try Chianti from the provinces of Florence and Siena (it was historically associated with a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket),  or enjoy these classic reds: Montalcino and Montepulciano. Super Tuscan reds include: Vernaccia di San Geminiano, and Brunello.

Building their characteristic dishes on a savvy interplay of vegetables,  Tuscans are masters at the art of understatement; their favorite aromatics (herbs), robust grains like farro,  cheese from artisanal dairies lends saltiness and pungency to their cuisine.

Enjoy these tasty morsels, and the flavors of Tuscany,
Karen

These caps are stuffed with grilled chicken – roasted eggplant adds creaminess and flavor!
Great vegetable and herb suggestions for stuffing
What’s inside: tender chicken, vegetables and farro (or brown rice for gluten-free), roasted eggplant and smoked mozzarella
Grilled Chicken Tenderloins (yes – they’re tender!) with fresh thyme
For extra creaminess, consider adding a knob of goat cheese in the center of the filling
The stuffing gets topped with a bit of breadcrumbs and olive oil – gluten-free crumbs work great too
Add a cherry tomato half, if you like, as the mushrooms bake
Serve the warm mushrooms and offer glasses of full-bodied Tuscan wine
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