The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Stuffed Mushrooms with Creamy Artichoke Pesto

Knowing that we were going to be doing pestos this weekend, and having decided that artichoke pesto would be among them, we decided to pop into my local farmer's market and pick up some fresh local vegetables. As we was lingering my way slowly through the varies delights before me...We thought of stuffed mushrooms and how we could incorporate them into our pesto fest. We then decided to gather everything that came into my head this morning,and here you have it. We hope you enjoy!

By the way, in case we have not mentioned this before... Food Pear-ings is a collaborative effort between our team members.

What you will need:

4 large portobello mushrooms
8 large fresh water blue shrimp (or your favorite shrimp)
4 or 5 slices of French bread or other similar bread, cubed (we used an olive bread)
Feta Cheese (for topping the mushrooms) - you may substitute this to your liking;
Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper (to taste)
Spices for the shrimp, to your preference (we used a seasoning mix, some salt and pepper, some garlic, and some ancho chile powder)

Creamy Artichoke Pesto
1 package of frozen artichokes (thawed and drained)
About 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil (have more on hand)
Juice of one medium lemon
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
About 1/3 cup of cheese, adjusted to your liking (for this, we used a mixture of Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano)
1/3 cup pecans (you may use another type if you prefer - walnuts or pine nuts will do)
2 tablespoons of crème fraiche
2 teaspoons of aioli mustard, or a spicy mustard if you cannot find it (note: this is only for the mushrooms recipe; if you are going to use your pesto for another application, such as pasta, you may not want to add the mustard component)
About a teaspoon of fresh herbs - you may use thyme, basil, etc. (for this, we used sage and lavender)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (if desired)
Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper (to taste)

Note: remember to adjust the measurements as needed, and to your taste.  We are not really big on measuring, so we do a lot by eye.  Also, if you are going to use the pesto for something different, like pasta, you may want to spice it up a bit.  But for this dish, we left it pretty tame, and added most of the spice to the shrimp.  So make sure you spice up your shrimp really well if you make these mushrooms.

Lets get cooking:

Add the nuts to your food processor, and pulse until they are chopped nicely.
Next, add the artichokes, and give it a few more pulses.
Add the lemon juice, garlic, cinnamon, herbs, salt and pepper, and the cheese.  Now, making sure the top is secure, turn the processor on, and pour in the oil a little bit at a time, pausing in between to scrape down the sides and stir the mixture up a bit with a spoon.
Once everything is fully processed, add the crème fraiche and the ailoi mustard (only add mustard if you are making the mushroom recipe with your pesto).
Turn the processor back on, and mix everything up very well.  Taste, and add more acid, salt or pepper as needed. Transfer to another container, or leave in the food processor until you are ready to apply it to your mushrooms.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Once your pieces of bread are cubed, place them on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and bake them at 400 degrees until they are golden brown (probably about ten minutes or so, depending on your oven, but don't let them burn!)
 Once you are done, set your oven to 350 degrees for the mushrooms.
Peel the shrimp and remove the tails, if necessary, and sauté them in butter until they are cook through.  This is a great time to add spices, as the spice from the shrimp will help to bring together the overall dish.  We used salt and pepper, a mixed seasoning that included coriander and mustard seed, and some ancho chile powder.  We also added a bit of lemon juice to the shrimp just as they finished cooking.  If you make the shrimp very spicy, don't worry: once all of the other ingredients are added, they won't be overpowering.
Remove the stems and "gills" from the mushrooms, opening space to insert the filling.  Place them on a baking sheet, and cook them for about five minutes at 350 degrees, to soften them a bit.
Chop up the shrimp, and place some of the pesto in each mushroom, and pile on bread crumbs, and pieces of shrimp. Top each mushroom with some feta cheese, or any other type you would like to melt on top.
Bake the mushrooms at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until the mushrooms are softening, the topping is becoming crispy, and the cheese is soft.

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