I went vegetarian in 1993, and like lots of folks who did the same around that time time, I didn’t have a whole lot to eat for a while. It wasn’t until maybe a little after the millennium that vegetarian food consistently became available at restaurants, supermarkets, and most importantly, dinner parties. At least that’s the case in the part of the country where I grew up.
When it came to parties, I ate a lot of appetizers, because among all of the chicken wings and meatballs, there were usually a few vegetarian items hanging around. Stuffed mushrooms, if I could find vegetarian ones, were my favorite.
The stuffed mushrooms that I stuffed my face with at holiday parties years ago, even though they were vegetarian, were usually filled with something super heavy, maybe involving mayo or cheese or other things that I steer clear of these days. With these stuffed mushrooms, I set out to make something just as delicious as my old faves, but filled with ingredients I’m down with these days. I wanted something I could actually make a meal of, and okay, being honest, I actually did make a meal of these little guys. I loved every bite.
I started with a base of mashed white beans, because they’re hearty, have a nice richness to them, but are way lighter than say, a creamy cheese base that you might find in more traditional stuffed mushroom recipes. Garlic, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes are all super healthy ingredients that also add some nice texture and flavor. The almonds are the kicker though. All roasted up in a mixture of soy sauce and liquid smoke, they taste like bacon…but crunchy almond vegan bacon, so way better.
Cremini mushroom caps are stuffed with crunchy, smoky almonds, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes in a base of creamy white beans to make this healthy and flavorful appetizer.
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:25 minutes
Total Time:35 minutes
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
24 medium cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups thinly shredded baby spinach
1 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not oil packed)
1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl, toss the almonds together with the soy sauce and liquid smoke. Arrange them in an even layer on a lipped baking sheet or pan. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until most of the liquid has dried up. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
After placing the almonds into the oven, lightly rub the outsides of the mushrooms with about 1 tablespoon of oil, and arrange them, stem sides up, on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes. If some liquid has accumulated within the caps after baking, just soak it up with a paper towel.
Once the almonds have cooled, chop them finely with a large knife.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until very fragrant. Add spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Continue to sauté until spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Add beans to the skillet and mash lightly with a fork or potato masher. Remove from heat and stir in almonds, breadcrumbs, red wine vinegar and chives. The mixture should hold together when pressed between your fingers. If it seems a bit crumbly, add a splash of water. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the bean mixture and press it firmly into a ball, then stuff it into a mushroom cap. Repeat until all filling is used.
Return the mushrooms to the oven, just long enough to heat the mushrooms and filling, about 4 minutes. Serve immediately.