Sausage, Spinach, + Sundried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

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When my family gathers, there are always lots of things to eat and drink–as it’s always a kind of “open-door” scenerio, we never know how many friends or other relations may stop by. One of the standards are my cousin Amy’s stuffed mushrooms. They are super simple and a total guilty pleasure–as the filling consists of sausage and cream cheese. Even though I love her version…I had to do my own version…I just can’t help myself!

For these mushrooms I swapped breakfast sausage for spicy italian (I’ll add heat anywhere I can), reduced the cream cheese by quite a bit, added some parmesan, a bit of wilted spinach for color and science, and some intensely sweet and chewy sun dried tomatoes. I added more parm and a little panko to the top for toast-iness and crunch. I think these stuffed mushrooms are the perfect 2-bite appetizer–they don’t have to be served super hot and you can eat them one handed, freeing your other hand for cocktail wrangling. Which, is totally key for appetizer greatness, amiright?!

Sausage, Spinach, and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

Makes 12 large stuffed mushrooms.

I used neufchatel-style cream cheese (1/3 less fat) instead of cream cheese and I don’t think the results suffered at all…but go ahead and use the regular cream cheese if you like.  I think one could go even further in the flavor department and add capers or briny olives to the filling–I didn’t think of it at the time, but I bet it’d be delish! (PS, my grocery store sells mushroom caps for stuffing, you can use regular button or cremini mushrooms–they will be smaller and will make double the amount in smaller mushrooms). 

12 large mushroom caps

1 spicy italian sausage link

2 cups fresh baby spinach

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

salt

2 ounces neufchatel or cream cheese (cut from an 8 ounce block), softened

4-6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided

3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs, divided

olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Brush off any soil stuck the the surface of the mushrooms with a pastry brush or dampened towel. Remove the stems and place the caps, well-side down, on the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, remove the sausage from the casing and crumble into the pan. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small crumbles with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet onto some paper towels to drain the grease and cool completely  Pour the remaining grease out of the pan, return to the heat and add the spinach, red pepper, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. Cook the spinach over medium until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool completely.  Once cooled, squeeze the spinach to remove excess liquid. Chop coarsely.

In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons of the parmesan with 2 tablespoons of the panko, drizzle with olive oil (1 teaspoon or so), and mix together with a fork to combine. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir the softened cheese until creamy and slightly loosened. Add the sun dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the panko, the cooked and cooled sausage, and the chopped, wilted spinach, and fold to combine. Spoon the filling into the pre-baked mushroom caps, sprinkle with the parm-panko mixture and bake in the 375˚F oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.

 

 

 

 

Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Guys, these are DANGER and I’m crushin’ hard.

I mean, they’re so savory, so crisp, so irresistible…I can’t stop thinking about them!

For that crisp, shattering exterior, I use the super-thin spring roll wrappers found in the freezer section of an Asian market. I’m a texture girl and those super thin edges are the money bits. For reals. Most of vegetables are quickly stir-fried to retain some texture in the finished roll…except for the mushrooms, which are cooked down to nutty perfection. Ginger, soy, and fish sauce make an appearance, as well. The dipping sauce is an easy mixture of sriracha, maple syrup, and a teeny bit of fish sauce. These would be perfect for the upcoming game-day, but you might want to make a double batch or more as, in my experience, I never seem to make enough when I share these spring rolls with anyone.

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Makes 2 dozen mini spring rolls. 

There is a great Asian market not far from where I live that stocks fresh/frozen/pantry items from all over Asia. It’s pretty much amazing. I urge you to seek out a market in your area if you haven’t already…there are so many fun ingredients to be found! I used a mini wrapper that they stock, but you could use the regular size. Just use 2-3 times more of the filling per roll. These wrappers are not the translucent rice ones, or the thicker, wonton-like ones. You are looking for the ones that are square and look like the thinnest of crepes. They come frozen, so just leave them in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight to defrost. While the wrappers can be delicate to peel apart, they do have some stretch. 

1 quart of oil (I used canola), for frying, plus 2 teaspoons

8 ounces (about 4 loosely packed cups) shredded cabbage

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned or grated coarsely

4 ounces cleaned mushrooms, stems and caps, diced

1/4 large onion, sliced thin

2 loosely packed cups spinach

1 Tablespoon grated, fresh ginger

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

24 mini spring roll wrappers (or 12 if using regular sized ones)

water for sealing

Dipping Sauce:

3 Tablespoons Sriracha

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon fish sauce, or to taste

In a small bowl whisk together the ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a very hot wok or large skillet, stir fry the cabbage, carrots, onion, and spinach with 1 teaspoon of oil until the vegetables are just starting to soften and some of the edges start to brown. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat with a pinch of salt to help release the liquid. Continue to cook the mushrooms until they turn golden brown. Scrape into the bowl with the vegetable mixture. Stir the ginger-soy mixture into the filling mixture to combine. Allow the filling to cool to room temperature before beginning the wrapping process. You can do this step the day before and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If the filling is wet after refrigerating, just drain the liquid so the spring rolls don’t become soggy. 

Whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Place a spring roll wrapper on a flat surface so that it looks like a diamond, keep the rest of the wrappers covered by a damp tea towel. Place about a tablespoon of filling  on the lower 1/3 of the wrapper, fold the bottom point over the filling and roll 2/3 of the way up. Fold in sides, wet the final point lightly with the water, seal, and place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

Heat 1 quart of oil (4 cups) in a high-sided pan (I like to use a wide saucepan with tallish sides), you will know it’s hot enough when you stick a skewer or chopstick into the oil and bubbles immediately form on the stick. Fry the spring rolls in batches until golden and crisp, anywhere from 3-4 minutes. Drain spring rolls on paper towels and serve hot and crisp with the dipping sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

Updated Green Bean Casserole

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Green bean casserole never graced the Thanksgiving table of my youth. It was one of those things I only ever had at other peoples houses and gatherings. At it’s simplest and most processed, it’s a mix of canned soup, green beans, and canned fried onions…and, I loved it.

Fast forward to adulthood, and I can’t really get with canned, cream-of-whatever soups anymore. They just don’t do it for me–too bland, yet somehow too salty, as well. I can, however, get with those crazy fried onion dudes…so, I made the soup and stuck with the store-bought, french-fried alliums*, and ditched the canned beans for fresh ones.

The soup starts with mushrooms, plus some shallot and garlic for flavor, and is finished with an odd-yet-totally appropriate mix of chicken stock, fish sauce, and a little half & half. I first sweat, then caramelize the mushrooms–which seems counterintuitive, but it makes for little nubs of mushroom that are super nutty and flavorful. The fish sauce adds savory depth and zero fishy-weirdness.

This casserole is a nod toward the original, but with better flavor, layered richness, and a fresher, more vegetal profile from the fresh beans and homemade mushroom soup. The crunchy topping is everything you remember (and love) of the classic version, with a little bit of an update underneath.

*You can go with the OG French’s brand of onions, but there are a number of store-brand options out there. I have, personally, had good luck with the Trader Joe’s version.

Updated Green Bean Casserole

Since the soup part of the original casserole is the sodium-flavored-condensed-variety, I wanted the soup base for this to be super flavorful. My secret addition is a bit of fish sauce for another layer of savoriness–you can leave it out (along with subbing veg stock for chicken) if you want to go vegetarian or don’t have fish sauce on hand. I like to keep a bottle on hand in the refrigerator for asian dishes–a little goes a long way and it keeps well. I also added turmeric–I add it to a lot of things since it’s good for the brain, it just adds a warm color to the sauce and the faintest earthiness, but it’s totally optional here. 

“Condensed” Creamy Mushroom Soup:

2 teaspoons olive oil

8 ounces cremini (brown) mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 large shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted

2 Tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

salt

pepper

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)

1 Tablespoon half and half

Casserole:

1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 recipe creamy mushroom soup

1 1/4 cups french fried onions

In a medium to large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped mushrooms to the pan and season lightly with salt–the mushrooms should release a good amount of liquid after salting–continue to cook until the mushroom liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms bits begin to take on some caramelized color and turn fragrant, stirring occasionally. Add the shallot and stir, cook until shallot is translucent and beginning to soften. Add the garlic, stir, and cook about 1 minute. Add the butter to the pan to melt, stir in the flour, along with turmeric and cayenne (if using), to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes to cook out the raw-flour flavor. Stir together the chicken stock, fish sauce (if using), and half & half. Begin adding the chicken stock mixture to the mushroom-roux mixture, stirring out any lumps, until all of the liquid is incorporated. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Continue cooking the soup base until it begins to bubble and has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook green beans for about 2-3 minutes, until just tender. Drain the beans and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine green beans with the soup base, mix to coat well. Add about 1/4 cup crushed, french fried onions, and mix to combine. Pour the green bean mixture into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling. Remove from oven, top with remaining french fried onions, and continue to bake another 5 minutes until the topping is crisp and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.