Thursday, February 9, 2012

Taleggio-Topped Stuffed Portobello Caps

Over the holidays, I gave my mom Yotam Ottelenghi's Plenty cookbook. With European and Middle Eastern influence, the pages are filled with a number of brightly-colored vegetable-based dishes with all sorts of exotic flavors, with recipes such as warm glass noodles with edamame, Castelluccio lentils with roasted tomatoes and gorgonzola, and Puy lentil galettes - what to make first?

This recipe is inspired by the first recipe I'd made from the book, and it's an instant keeper. Ottolenghi cooks down onions, celery, tarragon, Parmigiano, and sun-dried tomatoes. He then spoons this mouth-watering filling (it's amazing in an omelette, if have leftovers... and can resist not eating it by the spoonful) atop the just-tender portobello caps, and then tops everything off with slices of Taleggio cheese. (Note: The images here are pre-cheese melting. We ate them all too fast to document evidence of their success once they emerged out of the oven again).

I adapted the original recipe a bit, using roasted tomatoes I had made two days prior, and substituting the tarragon with more basil (mine bit the dust too early). I'd also be curious to add some finely chopped zucchini to the mixture. For the topping, I used a mixture of raw milk Taleggio and one made with pasteurized cheese. While I much prefer the piquant aroma and flavor of the raw milk Taleggio, it is super-soft and can be a challenge when slicing. 

These little beauties are well worth the effort, and are perfect for a light lunch, or as I served them, with roasted chicken sausages (and red wine!) for a warming meal on a snowy and cold winter's night.

Taleggio-Topped Stuffed Portobello Caps
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty

3 large portobello caps (mine were about 4-6 inches wide), stems trimmed
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for sautéing 
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 1/2 cups roasted tomatoes (from about 2 pints of cherry tomatoes)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
1/2 cup basil leaves, chiffonaded, plus more for garnish
6 slices Taleggio, about 1/8-1/4-inch thick

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle mushrooms with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake until they start to become tender and begin to release juices, about 20-30 minutes (I baked mine 20 minutes, then turned the oven off and walked the dogs for 15 minutes... Came back and they were perfect).

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with oil. Add the onion and celery and cook until tender, but not yet golden, about 5-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for a few minutes longer. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool completely. 

Once the stuffing is cool, stir in the cheese and basil. Top each cap with about 1/2-3/4 cup filling, and then layer on the slices of Taleggio. Bake for 10 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and the mushrooms are tender.

Serve immediately.

Serves three as a starter, a topping for a lunch salad, or as a hearty vegetable accompaniment to meat.

Note: While I link to a recipe where I roast the tomatoes with some olive oil, if you have particularly flavorful tomatoes, no oil is needed. Throw the clean tomatoes in a baking pan and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400 degrees until the skins begin to burst, shaking the pan about halfway through. Stir the tomatoes to let more juices escape, and cool completely.

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