When I moved to a mostly vegetarian diet a couple of years ago, I needed to create some new entrées for the holidays. Let’s face it; whether you’re 2 years old or 75, food is central to festivities, starting with Thanksgiving and continuing all the way through countless holiday parties to New Years Day. So, just two months after my leap into the big green world of vegetarianism, heated debates raged in my extended family over the best way to roast (or deep fry) turkey to get a crispy skin and juicy flesh, while I tried (and failed) to muster interest in tofurkey. Friends discussed whether Christmas Eve dinner should be a standing rib roast with a mustard crust or a simple cioppino stew with hunks of bread, and asked what I thought since I’d recently graduated from culinary school. I thought I should have delayed my vegetarian mission to January.
Creating a vegetarian dinner for Thanksgiving was fairly easy with all the squash arriving at the markets in their whimsical colors, sizes, and shapes. But once that passed, I wanted to put on my dancing shoes for December. It was time to be festive, to bring out my jewels, to toast the year done, and welcome the new one on the horizon. Unfortunately I stumbled through two holiday seasons with uninteresting vegetarian grain pilafs studded with dried apricots, leaving my need for something special unsated.
I vowed this year would be different. I needed something with wine for the touch of exuberance it brings to otherwise stolid dishes.
Read on for the recipe I came up with using Portabella mushrooms and Gallo Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; easy enough for a weeknight dinner, fancy enough for company. And all dressed up for the holidays in pomegranate jewels.
Portabellas Stuffed with Cabernet Onions and Gorgonzola
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 2 large yellow onions sliced
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt divided
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper divided
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
- 8 cups baby spinach loosely packed
- 4 medium portabella mushrooms stems sliced off
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 1 large sprig of thyme
- 4 tablespoon gorgonzola
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion slices, and carefully turn with tongs to coat. As they warm, they’ll begin to collapse into the pan. Continue to cook, occasionally stirring, until browned, about twenty minutes.
- Add the nutmeg, half of the salt and pepper, and the raisins, and toss to mix into the onions. Cool another five minutes. Pour in the wine, and cook at a rapid simmer until absorbed, about ten minutes. When the pan is fairly dry, add the spinach. Toss in with tongs. Once most of the spinach begins to wilt, remove to a bowl. The spinach will continue to wilt, so don’t wait until it’s completely wilted before removing to the bowl.
- Using the same sauté pan, heat up the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Clean the cap and gills of the mushrooms using a brush or paper towel. I reserve a pastry brush for this, which does a great job of brushing dirt out of hidden nooks and crannies. If they feel dry, rub a little olive oil on their surfaces. But only a little. Mushrooms are very absorbent.
- Place the mushrooms, cap side down, in the pan and cook for two – three minutes. Add the vegetable broth and thyme, and flip the mushrooms over. Cover the pan and cook for another two – three minutes. Flip again, and season the mushrooms with the remaining salt and pepper. Divide the onion – spinach mixture between the four mushrooms and top each with one tablespoon gorgonzola. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook for an additional two minutes.
- Place the stuffed mushrooms on a serving plate and shower their beauty with pomegranate jewels.