Balsamic-Roasted Mushrooms

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This dish makes a great appetizer or a light meal. Mushrooms have that satisfying umami flavor and a lovely “meaty” texture. The sauce is savory with a touch of sweetness. Here, I serve them over grilled polenta, but they go well over any grain or even with a crusty baguette.

BALSAMIC ROASTED MUSHROOMS

1 LB MUSHROOMS, MIXED, QUARTERED
2 SHALLOTS, HALVED LENGTHWISE AND QUARTERED
1.5 TBSP OLIVE OIL
¼ CUP BALSAMIC REDUCTION, DIVIDED (recipe follows)
⅛ TSP. RED PEPPER FLAKES
KOSHER SALT, TO TASTE
BLACK PEPPER, GROUND, TO TASTE
2 CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
2 TBSP. PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF, CHOPPED

1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. DRIZZLE MUSHROOMS AND SHALLOTS WITH OIL IN LARGE BOWL.:

2. POUR IN 2 TBSP BALSAMIC REDUCTION, SALT AND PEPPER AND CRUSHED RED PEPPER. SPREAD ON PARCHMENT LINED SHEET TRAY AND ROAST FOR 20-25 MINUTES, UNTIL THEY ARE TENDER AND DEEP BROWN.:

3. FOR SERVICE, SAUTE GARLIC IN OLIVE OIL, THEN ADD MUSHROOMS AND 1-2 MORE TBSP BALSAMIC REDUCTION. HEAT THROUGHLY AND SERVE OVER POLENTA.:

(Servings: 2)

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

½ CUP AGAVE NECTAR
1 CUP BALSAMIC VINEGAR
1 SHALLOTS, HALVED
KOSHER SALT, TO TASTE
BLACK PEPPER, GROUND, TO TASTE

1.HEAT AGAVE IN SMALL SAUCEPAN OVER MEDIUM-LOW HEAT UNTIL IT THINS OUT AND IS WARMED, ABOUT 5 MINUTES.:

2.ADD VINEGAR AND SHALLOT AND SIMMER GENTLY, SWIRLING THE PAN A FEW TIMES, UNTIL SAUCE HAVE REDUCED AND THICKENED TO THE CONSISTENCY OF MAPLE SYRUP AND COATS THE BACK OF A SPOON, ABOUT 50 MINUTES.:

3.STORE COVERED, UP TO 3 MONTHS, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.:

Yield: 1/2 cup

Smoky Cheddar Sauce

nachos

The next recipe in my “Turning on to Tofu” series, this deceptively simple cheese sauce. I used soft silken tofu combined with cashews, to add a smooth, creamy consistency that pours easily over nachos, veggies, baked potatoes, burgers–you name it!

prep

I love that I always have these staple ingredients in my pantry and fridge. Tofu stores well, so I try to keep a couple packages handy for whipping up a batch of quick scramble or a cheese spread. Maybe even a chocolate mousse. I’ll get to those recipes later.

“Smoky Cheddar Cheeze Sauce” (from “The Sexy Vegan” by Brian Patton)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole, raw cashews

1 12 oz. package soft, silken tofu

1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder and turmeric

1/2 teaspoon yellow miso

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2/3 cup water

Method:

Place the cashews in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook for 8 minutes, to soften them up a bit. While the cashews are cooking, measure the dry spices, combine and set aside.

Drain tofu of any extra liquid. Measure wet ingredients, combine and set aside. By this time the cashews should be done cooking. Drain them well and allow to cool. This is a good time to prepare the nacho toppings.snip

Here’s a little tip I learned from Martha Stewart back in the day: snip scallions with a sharp pair of kitchen shears. I found this also works great with herbs and olives. One of many great timesavers I learned from Ms. Stewart, including how to say, “Marin-ah-de”.

Grind the cashews in a food processor until fine. Add the tofu and half of the wet ingredients. Process until well blended. Add the remaining wet ingredients and process until very smooth. Add the desired amount to a small pot and heat very gently stirring often, until warmed. Do not boil. The sauce will thicken a bit as it heats and turn a lovely shade of cheese.

While sauce is heating, preheat the oven to 275 degrees and warm the tortilla chips for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour sauce over chips with desired toppings and enjoy! Store leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 4 days.

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Tapas for Two

Sauteed Wild Mushroom Medley with Garlic and Thyme, Creamy Artisan Cheese, Tomato Balsamic Bruschetta and Olive Tapenade with Grilled Sourdough

This is one of my favorite dinners to share on a weekend evening with my sweetie. A little of this, a little of that–an intensely flavorful variety of tastes and textures. A glass of organic red wine (Orleans Hill Syrah, 2011) and that’s all I need.

Wild Mushroom Medley

8 oz. mushrooms (Shittake, Portobello, Button, Cremini ) thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

3/4 tsp. dried thyme

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Saute garlic for 30 seconds then add mushrooms and thyme and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Season to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Artisan Cheese Spread

7 oz. firm tofu, drained

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup water, scant

1/3 cup yellow miso

1/4 cup tahini

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients, adding only as much water as needed, in food processor and blend until spreadable consistency.

Tomato Balsamic Bruschetta:

1 14 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained

1 clove, garlic finely minced

1/4 onion, finely minced

Handful fresh basil, finely minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and let stand for at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Season to taste.

To assemble tapas:

Heat a grill or oiled grill pan to medium high heat. Grill thin slices of sourdough bread until toasted and grill-marked. Remove and serve immediately on a platter with toppings to include Artisan Cheese, Wild Mushroom Medley, Tomato Bruschetta, finely diced olives and capers, onions, marinated vegetables, etc.