My partner is a mathematical genius, a coupon wizard, and a shrewd bargain hunter. When he finds an amazing deal, he stocks up and saves. I never know what he’s going to bring home. It could be:
Twenty containers of tofu, purchased with double coupons for the price of sales tax only.
Ten pounds of organic broccoli.
A dozen bags of fresh, organic Brussels sprouts.
“Is there anything in particular you want me to make with all this … uhh… asparagus?” I’ll ask as I take bundle after bundle of the green twiggy vegetables out of the bags.
His response is usually something along the lines of, “No, that’s YOUR job to figure it out.”
I must say this approach has encouraged my creativity!
Often, in trying to figure out what to cook, I’ll think back upon foods from my childhood and omnivore years. The holiday and company dishes, potluck favorites, party appetizers, family recipes. First, I’ll work out how to veganize the recipe. Second, I’ll see if there’s any way I can make an old Southern favorite more palatable to my Punjabi partner – by adding spices or peppers, perhaps.
Which is exactly what happened here with these Stuffed Curried Mushrooms. I took the old party appetizer of cream cheese and spinach stuffed mushrooms and veganized it by using vegan cream cheese and leaving out the sour cream, mayo, and cheese shreds. I also left off the gluten-y bread crumbs. Then I added just a whiff of curry powder and hot pepper. The filling was so good I had to stop myself from eating it with a spoon, and it was even gooier and more delicious once the mushrooms were baked. Even better, it was was quick and easy to prepare and miles healthier than the calorie- and cholesterol-laden original.
Ingredients for Stuffed Curried Mushrooms:
1 Box Button or Cremini Mushrooms (about 10-12 oz.)
1 TBL EarthBalance or Canola Oil (Olive Oil is also ok)
2 Large Cloves Garlic or 3 Small/Medium Cloves, minced or pressed
Splash White Wine or Squeeze Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Curry Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste
1 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 Green Thai Chili, minced, or 1/4 Tsp Red Chili Powder (optional)
4 oz. Vegan Cream Cheese (1/2 package – I prefer Vegan Gourmet by Follow Your Heart)
Directions for Stuffed Curried Mushrooms:
Preheat oven to 350 and spray a baking pan or casserole dish with cooking spray.
Clean the mushrooms under running water. (It’s a myth you should just “wipe clean with a dry paper towel” – those babies have a lot of dirt!) Pop out the stems, clean, and set aside on cutting board. Place the mushroom caps in the baking dish.
Chop the ends of the stems off if they are too “woody.” Then dice the rest of the stems.
Add about a tablespoon of Earth Balance or canola oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, mushroom stems, and the minced green chili, if using. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.
Lightly defrost about a cup of frozen chopped spinach in the microwave and add to skillet. Alternately, add spinach directly to skillet but be careful – ice crystals can make the oil spatter! Cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is warm and no longer frozen.
Add 4 oz. vegan cream cheese – in most brands that’s half a package. Stir so it begins to melt. Add curry powder and salt. Add the optional red chili powder if you’re not using a fresh chili. Stir to mix.
Add a splash of white wine (about a tablespoon) or a squeeze of lemon juice (start with a teaspoon). Either will cut the richness and add a bit of brightness.
Cook until hot and bubbly, stirring frequently.
As soon as it’s hot and bubbly, spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
It’s just as good without the chilis, so if you have a delicate palate just omit the hot stuff.
You could, of course, also use olive oil instead of EarthBalance or canola oil. Olive oil does have a more pronounced taste which I sometimes find a little jarring in Indian or Indian Fusion recipes. So usually I’ll stick with milder canola or buttery EarthBalance for a fusion recipe like this one, and use olive oil for the rest of my cooking.
Recipe can easily be doubled.
Caps can be stuffed ahead of time and kept refrigerated for a few hours (or overnight) before cooking.
Serve as an appetizer, a side item, or even an entree!
This is best made with smaller mushrooms. I did try making stuffed Portabellos, but didn’t like it as well – perhaps the tougher, “meatier” texture didn’t go as well with the creamy cheese filling.