Spiced Stuffed Mushrooms

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Mushrooms, you guys. We should talk about them. They are a “challenge” food of mine, which makes me feel like a bad food and vegetable enthusiast because everyone seems to lose their minds over fragrant truffles and earthy shiitakes, but I just am not quite there. I’ve got to stick to the ones milder in flavor, because I’m kind of a mushroom wimp. Sorry. I feel like next I’m going to reveal that I like iceberg lettuce best of all. (I don’t.) But I do like button mushrooms. (Chanterelles and oysters, I also like; I’m not totally insane.)

Anyways, nothing like eating only hors d’oeuvres as a meal to get over a mild food aversion. We can all agree, at least, that at restaurants, appetizers are the best part, right? (And can we also agree that nobody can spell “hors d’oeuvres” on the first try?) Stuffed mushrooms feel like party food to me — you know, the type of thing that gets whisked around at a social event, where you’re tempted to just follow the food around but you have to stand around and interact with humans, instead. Or maybe that’s just me.

I suppose if you were not making your way through a slightly-ill-advised purchase of a Costco-sized container of mushrooms by your lukewarm-on-mushrooms self, you could make these as a starter. But I won’t lie, I ate all of them by myself as a meal. And it was good. I put Indian-inspired spices for flavah and tofu for nutrition in them because I can’t leave well enough alone. Sorry, guys. We are who we are.

Spiced Stuffed mushrooms
6 white mushrooms / button mushrooms
approx. 2 oz tofu (firm tofu slice 1/2 to 1 inch thick)
1/2 small onion
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
small slice of ginger
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups spinach
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon paprika
generous pinch of crushed red pepper
a few sprigs of parsley or cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Wrap the tofu slice in a paper towel and place under something with weight, like a cast iron pan, allowing some of the liquid to drain out.

Gently wash mushrooms, either by carefully rinsing or wiping off with a wet paper towel. Carefully remove the stems, discarding any dried out parts but reserving as much as possible. Set aside the caps and let them dry. Finely chop the reserved stems.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic and ginger, while you’re at it.

Heat up the oil in a pan (you can use the same cast iron pan that was pressing the tofu). Fry the onion, garlic, and ginger until the onion is translucent. Add the mushroom stems and continue to fry until they start to squeak. Add the spinach, and fry for another minute until it begins to wilt. Add lemon juice, spices, and salt and pepper to taste, continuing to stir and turn.

Crumble the tofu into the pan and stir, allowing spinach to continue to release liquid and tofu to soak up seasoning. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Spoon and pile filling into mushroom caps. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake until the mushroom caps are cooked and the filling has crisped up and browned a bit on top, between 20 and 30 minutes for me. Garnish with chopped herbs and another dash of paprika, if you like.