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.
- 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.