THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Herbs

TIP OF THE DAY: More Ways To Enjoy Carrots

What’s up, Doc?

The humble carrot, dressed to impress.

Winter, with its paucity of produce choices, is the best time to enjoy root vegetables. The most familiar—and the easiest to convince family members to eat—is the carrot. Here, some ideas from the familiar to the less so. First…

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO ROOT VEGETABLES

Root vegetables most common in the U.S. include the beet, carrot, celery root (celeriac), Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, kohlrabi, onions (use baby onions), parsnips, potato (use small waxy potatoes), radishes, rutabaga, salsify, and turnip.

Root vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, which they absorb from the ground. Many are high in vitamin A, B complex and C; plus antioxidants. Root vegetables are an excellent source of fiber.

Many of these can be eaten raw, steamed, sautéed, baked, roasted, stir fried, or fried.

In the case of carrots, Whether baby, heirloom or standard, carrots and their root kin are waiting at your nearest market.

COOKING CARROTS

Beyond boiled carrots, carrot salad and crudités, consider these preparations:

  • Brochette: Parboil and skewer them, then grill them and serve as a fun brochette.
  • Classic: Steam them and toss in butter with fresh dill or parsley.
  • Gratinée: Roast or steam, top with shredded Gruyere or other cheese and broil until melted.
  • Fancy cut: Cooked the carrots shredded, as you wood a slaw; or use mini vegetable cutters to make small flowers and other shapes.
  • Roasted/Grilled: Roast them in garlic butter and garnish with chopped parsley.
  • Pan-fried: We just tried this for the first time. Here’s a recipe.
  • Pickles: Pickle carrots as you would cucumbers or any vegetables. You can quick-pickle in just an hour.
  • Purée: A terrific way to eat most dense vegetables.
  • Raw: as crudites or grated into a slaw/mixed slaw, or mixed into a salad. Just grate them or slice thinly. Beyond carrots, think beets and radishes. Anything sold fresh with the greens attached—kohlrabi, turnips—will be moist, sweet and of course, crunchy, when raw. While not sold with its greens, rutabaga is mild and often sweet. Although drier than turnips or kohlrabi, it contributes a pale yellow color to the mix.*
  • Soup: When was the last time you made soup? Carrot soup is a perennial favorite. Make it chunky—like a thin purée. Garnish with fresh herbs and, as desired, a slice of bacon or sausage.
  • Sandwich:
  • Different choices here: Roasted carrot or mixed roasted vegetable sandwich, with or without goat cheese; or carrot pickles or carrot slaw on a ham, turkey or other sandwich.

  • Stew: For Meatless Mondays, try this hearty Carrot-Mushroom-Barley Stew from Food Network.
  •  
    WAYS TO TREAT ANY CARROT PREPARATION

  • Blended: Combine with other root vegetables†: beet, celery root (celeriac), Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, kohlrabi, onions (use baby onions), parsnips, potato (use small waxy potatoes), radishes, rutabaga, salsify, turnip, etc.
  • Garnishes: Beyond herbs, consider toasted breadcrumbs, pecans, raisins, seeds or a mix. For color, try dried cranberries, dice red bell pepper or pomegranate arils. Rings of red jalapeño with the seeds and pith remove also work. Those who don’t like heat can set them aside.
  • Heat: Add your choice of heat—cayenne, chile flakes, hot sauce, etc.—to the dish.
  • Herbs: Basil, dill, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme are naturals with carrots.
  • International: From Indian to Moroccan, French to Japanese, your favorite international flavors work with carrots.
  • Spices: “Fall” spices such as allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are delicious with carrots. Also try coriander.
  • Sweet: Add a bit of brown sugar, honey or maple syrup.
  •  
    Do you have a favorite carrot preparation?

    If it’s not listed here, please let us know!

    CARROT HISTORY

    The original wild carrots were white, like parsnips. According to Colorful Harvest, marketer of rainbow carrots, the cultivated purple and yellow carrots—mutations—were eaten more than 1,000 years ago in what is now Afghanistan.

    Other colors are the product of generations of traditional plant breeding. Orange carrots were first successfully bred in Holland from an orange mutation by Dutch farmers. Here’s the history of carrots.

    FROM WHERE DO CARROTS GET THEIR COLOR?

     

    Shredded Cooked Carrots

    Grilled Carrots & Radishes

    Pan-Fried Carrots

    Glazed Carrots With Pomegranate

    Grilled Carrot Sandwich

    Colored Carrots

    [1] “Cooked” carrot salad. Here’s the recipe from Walnut Frog. [2] Carrots with other root vegetables (here, radishes and baby onions). Here’s the recipe, with a maple-honey glaze, from Kalamazoo Gourmet. [3] Pan-fried carrots with parsley. Not the red skin: It’s an heirloom variety. Here’s the recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet. [4]. These glazed carrots are accented with sesame seeds and pomegranate arils for more color. Here’s the recipe from The Café Sucre Farine. [5] Grilled carrot sandwich on crusty bread with goat cheese, apricot jam and toasted pine nuts, at The Wayfarer | NYC. [6] This picture is not Photoshopped: These are natural mutations. See how it happens, below (photo courtesy The Wayfarer).

     
    Deeply colored produce are rich in nutrients, including antioxidants. Different antioxidants produce the different colors or carrots:

  • Red carrots get their color from lycopene, an antioxidant that may promote healthy eyes and a healthy prostate.
  • Orange and tangerine carrots get their color comes from beta-carotene, an antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A.
  • Purple carrots get their color from anthocyanins, the same potent phytonutrients (antioxidants) that makes blueberries blue,. Anthocyanins are flavonoids that may help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood and may help maintain good brain function.
  • Yellow and white carrots get their color from lutein, which studies suggest may promote good eye health.
  •  
    ________________
    *Tenderness, moistness and delicacy depend in part on how and where a vegetable is grown. Those grown in a hot, dry climate without sufficient irrigation can turn out to be pretty hot and spicy. If you end up with that character, you can reduce the spiciness by blanching the cut pieces in salted, boiling water. (Source)

    †Other common root vegetables, that don’t necessarily lend themselves to these preparations, include include daikon, ginger, horseradish, jicama and turmeric.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Citrus Salads

    Beet & Citrus Salad

    Citrus Onion Salad

    Pear Gorgonzola Salad

    [1] Citrus with beets and greens have eye appeal and taste great (here’s the recipe from Southern Living). [2] Pretty as a picture (here’s the recipe from Today). [3] An elegant take on ambrosia (recipe at right, from Fosters Market).

     

    When cold weather limits the choices of both fruits and vegetables, a sprightly citrus salad can be a treat for the eyes and the palate.

    It can be served for lunch or dinner:

  • As the salad course
  • As the main course with a protein—poached salmon, scallops, shrimp or other shellfish a salad course, as a main with seafood
  • As dessert, with burrata, goat or other soft cheese
  •  
    When you mix colors, the results are truly glorious. They’re pretty, taste and good for you!

    You can have a base of greens:

  • Baby arugula and/or spinach
  • Endive and/or radicchio
  • Mesclun
  •  
    The dressings can be:

  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Blue cheese (add a pinch of brown sugar)
  • Fruit yogurt
  • Vinaigrette with a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup
  •  
    Garnishes can add:

  • Crunch (grated carrots, sliced or julienned celery or radish, nuts)
  • Color (carrots, dried cranberries or cherries, green sprouts or cress, pomegranate arils, red bell pepper, red chili flakes or jalapeño)
  •  
    You can also add another colorful winter favorite, beets, to the salad.

    There are endless variations of citrus salads. Here are two classic combinations; elaborate on them as you wish.

    RECIPE #1: AMBROSIA WITH CITRUS & FLAKY COCONUT

    In Greek mythology, the gods ate ambrosia and drank nectar, fragrant foods that were typically reserved for divine beings.

    While no descriptions of either these foods survive (the word ambrosia means delicious or fragrant and nectar indicates a delicious or invigorating drink), scholars have long believed that both ambrosia and nectar were based on honey.

    The elegant recipe that follows (photo #3) is from Fosters Market Cookbook, recipes from a fine market and café in Durham, North Carolina.

    Here’s a recipe for another style of ambrosia from Alton Brown, with a sour cream dressing, pecans, grapes, mini marshmallows and more.

    Ingredients For 8 To 10 Servings

  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 cara cara oranges
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 red grapefruits
  • 2 clementines
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 Meyer lemon (substitute other lemon or lime)
  • Preparation

    1. PEEL the citrus. First cut off the tops and bottoms with so the fruit sits flat. Then place on a cutting board and cut away the skin and pith, working around the circle between the fruit and the pith.

    2. SLICE each fruit into rounds or half rounds, depending on the size. Remove any seeds.

    3. PLACE on a large platter or individual plates, and sprinkle with any juice that has collected on the board. Sprinkle the dried cranberries/cherries and coconut over the top.

    4. ZEST the lemon over the salad; then cut in half and squeeze the juice over the citrus.

    5. SERVE, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

     

    RECIPE #2: AVOCADO GRAPEFRUIT SALAD WITH MACADAMIA NUT DRESSING

    Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog developed this recipe by browsing the produce aisle and picking up what was available.

    “Something about the acidic, subtly sweet citrus, creamy avocado, and crunchy macadamia nuts make this salad utterly unforgettable,” Hannah says. “Don’t just take my word for it, because I’m afraid I can’t do it full justice in a few short sentences. It’s just too good to fully explain in words. This simple, invigorating combination will brighten short winter days.”

    If you don’t like avocado, or can’t find a ripe one, she recommends:

    “Mix citrus segments with any other fruits that are available; or make an all-citrus salad, combining segments from grapefruits, oranges, blood oranges, cara cara oranges, and so forth. The mix of colors is absolutely gorgeous.”

    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

    For The Macadamia Nut Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  
    For The Salad

  • 8 cups arugula
  • 2 cups thinly sliced fennel
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 large pink or red grapefruit, sliced into segments
  • 1 large, ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Grapefruit Avocado Salad

    Grapefruit Avocado Salad

    [4] Grapefruit and avocado with macadamia nut dressing (photo courtesy Bittersweet Blog). [5] A pretty preparation: dressed TexaSweet red grapefruit segments in an avocado half (photo courtesy Texasweet).

     
    1. MAKE the dressing. Combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée on high, until creamy and completely smooth.

    2. PLACE the arugula and fennel in a bowl and toss with the dressing; or if you prefer, serve the dressing on the side. Divide the greens between 2 or 3 bowls.

    3. TOP with equal amounts of grapefruit, avocado, and macadamia nuts. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper as needed, or simply place the shakers on the table for self-service.
     
    MORE WAYS TO USE CITRUS

  • As a garnish on everything from vegetables to mains.
  • Recipes from chiles rellenos to sushi.
  •  
    THE HISTORY OF GRAPEFRUIT

    But the grapefruit’s ancestor, the pummelo (also pomelo or shaddock), comes from far away—it’s native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Pummelo seeds were brought from the East Indies to the West Indies in 1693 by an English ship commander. The grapefruit may have been a horticultural accident or a deliberate hybridization between the pummelo and the orange

    Here’s more.
     
    HOW TO SEGMENT CITRUS

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Winter Panzanella Salad (Bread Salad)

    Bread Salad Recipe

    Winter Panzanella Salad With Squash

    Bread Salad With Rye & Ham

    Winter Panzanella Salad

    Panzanella Crostini

    [1] Bright colors in a winter panzanella. Here’s the recipe from Food 53. [2] With squash and sage from Good Eggs. [3] “Ham on rye” bread salad recipe from Betty Crocker. [4] Winter Panzanella Salad With Squash & Brussels Sprouts from Hot Bread Kitchen. [5] Winter “panzanella crostini” at The Tuck Room | NYC.

     

    Bread salad, like French toast and croutons, is one of those delicious foods invented by necessity: Poor people needed to get another meal from bread that had gone stale.

    THE HISTORY OF PANZANELLA SALAD

    While some type of bread salad likely cropped up wherever people ate bread, panzanella is a Tuscan-style bread salad made with a loaf of day-old (or older) Italian bread, cubed into large croutons and soaked in vinaigrette to soften it. Chopped salad vegetables are added.

    The translation we have found for “panzanella” is “bread in a swamp,” the swamp being the vinaigrette in which it the bread was soaked. When there wasn’t enough oil to spare, the bread was moistened in water.

    While today’s recipes are rich in ingredients, the original preparers foraged to pull together vegetables from the garden: cucumber, onion, tomato—and possibly purslane, a salad green that grows wild. Early recipes were heavy on the onions, the cheapest ingredient to pair with the bread.

    This peasant dish has become a popular first course in Italy. It doesn’t appear often on menus of U.S.-based Italian restaurants. That’s too bad, because it’s a dish worth knowing; but it’s also a salad that’s easy to make…

    Especially when you have a leftover baguette or other loaf, as we often do. (If you stick the leftovers in the freezer for some TBD use, put it to use!)

    While crusty Italian loaves were used in the original, you can use any bread from challah to semolina raisin to sourdough.

    Bread salad is not a lettuce salad. You should toss in some small greens with a bite—arugula, mustard greens and watercress, along with radishes and red onions. But keep the mesclun mix and romaine for lettuce salads.

    RECIPE: DIY WINTER PANZANELLA SALAD

    Winter is no time to repurpose summer vegetables like tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini. Instead, look for year-round options and root vegetables. (Here’s a list of winter fruits and vegetables.)

    You can add the root vegetables raw or roasted. Carrots are a dual-usage veg, as are beets, celery roots and turnips—the latter ideally halved or cut into very thin slices.

    Pick Your Ingredients

  • Bell peppers
  • Capers
  • Celery
  • Cheese: cubed, shredded
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Citrus: orange or red grapefruit segments
  • Cucumbers
  • Crucifers: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi, turnips, watercress*
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, sage
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Protein: anchovies, chicken/turkey, ham, hard-boiled eggs, prosciutto, sardines, tuna
  • Non-crucifer root vegetables, raw or roasted: beets, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, parsnips, radishes turnips
  • Spices: crushed coriander seeds, fennel seeds, red flakes
  • Winter greens: chard, collards, kale, rapini
  • Winter squash, roasted (acorn, butternut, etc.)
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Cheese: crumbled
  • Nuts and seeds, including pomegranate arils
  • Roasted garlic cloves
  • Herbs
  •  
    Plan a variety of colors; not just green but red (e.g. beets, bell pepper, grapefruit), orange (e.g. mandarins, oranges, winter squash) and yellow (beets, bell peppers, cherry/grape tomatoes).

    Don’t forget to season with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

    Vinaigrette

    Lastly, you need a good vinaigrette. Pick your favorite or use a the conventional red wine vinegar and EVOO, with or without an added half teaspoon of mushrooms.

    The emphasis is on “good”: Red wine vinegar can be stringent. Seek out the good stuff. Good doesn’t mean expensive:

  • Pompeian, about $2.60 for 16 ounces.
  • Holland House Red Wine Vinegar, about $3.29 for 12 ounces
  • Laurent du Clos, $5.49 for 16.9 ounces (worth it!)
  •  
    The traditional vinaigrette ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar; the recipes above are written as such. But the important thing to keep in mind is that you are the only one who knows exactly how acidic and how viscous you want your dressing to be.

  • More oil will mute flavors but add body and mouthfeel.
  • More acidity can be helpful if the salad ingredients have stronger flavor (think heartier greens).
  • To add pungency (e.g., with mustard) or sweetness (e.g., with honey), start with a half teaspoon per half cup of vinaigrette. Taste and adjust to your preference.
  •  

     
    MORE PANZANELLA RECIPES

    Keep these on tap for warmer weather:

  • Summer Panzanella Salad
  • Basic Panzanella Salad (basil, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes)
  • Chicken Panzanella Salad
  • Panzanella & Fruit Salad
  • Zucchini & Bell Pepper Panzanella
  •  
    ________________
    *Horseradish and wasabi are also cruciferous.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat More Fish With Sashimi Salad

    If you want to eat more fish but don’t like cooking it, here’s an easy idea: sashimi salad.

    Just toss sliced fish over greens.

    Instead of opening a can or searing the fish tataki-style (briefly seared), sashimi salad is an easy alternative.

    A decade ago one of our favorite neighborhood sushi bars closed, taking with it one of our favorite foods, “marinated salmon”—was a mesclun salad with onions dressed in vinaigrette and topped with slices of salmon sashimi.

    It was deliciousness, low in calories, and had eye appeal: a culinary home run. We had it several times a week.

    When the restaurant was replaced by a cupcake parlor, we had to make it at home. Aside from fetching fresh salmon, it couldn’t have been easier.
     
     
    1. SELECT YOUR FISH.

    Ask for recommendations at the fish counter. The staff can also slice the salmon or tuna loins into sashimi-thickness slices.

    The typical sashimi slice is 2 inches by 1/16 inch, but you can have them sliced longer and thicker as you prefer (longer is also better to drape over a mound of salad, as in photo # 2).

    You can also consider the kaku-zukuri cut (“square slice”, photo #5) of 3/4-inch cubes (photos #1, #3 and #4).

    The sashimi sold in sushi restaurants in North America is flash-frozen, whether it is local or flown in from elsewhere. It is thawed before preparation. You can purchase flash-frozen fish in your supermarket, slowly thaw it overnight in the fridge and eat it the next day.

    You may also find live salmon and other varieties at Asian fish markets, where they can filet them for you.

     
    2. PICK YOUR GREENS.

    Are you in the mood for something more mild, like a mesclun mix; or a peppery arugula and watercress? A mixture is always a good idea.

    If you like crunch, consider shredded cabbage (cole slaw mix).

    We like onion in our salad. Japanese recipes use green onions (scallions); but you can add your allium of preference (the different types of onions).
     
     
    3. ADD OTHER VEGETABLES & FRUITS.

    Use whatever you have, or add whatever you like. We personally like:

  • Avocado
  • Baby beets
  • Blueberries and/or blackberries
  • Carrot curls
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Chinese vegetables: bamboo shoots, bok choy, napa cabbage, etc.
  • Diced honeydew
  • Edamame
  • Japanese pickles (oshinko and tsukemono, available online or at Asian food stores)
  • Lychees or rambutans
  • Mango or papaya
  • Orange or mandarin segments (particularly blood orange)
  • Radish slices, or shredded daikon (Japanese radish)
  • Seaweed salad or kimchi
  • Snow peas or sugar snap peas
  •    

    Sashimi Salad

    Sashimi Salad

    Sashimi Salad With Quinoa

    Sashimi Salad

    Square Cut Toro Sashimi

    [1] Mesclun with tuna cubes, at Kabuki Restaurants. [2] Conventional sashimi strips over a mounded salad, garnished with cherry tomatoes and tobacco, at Natsumi | NYC. [3] Double the nutrition: Sashimi salad over quinoa (or your whole grain of choice), at Sushi Samba. [4] Sashimi salad with wasabi & passionfruit dressing. Here’s the recipe from from Delicious | Australia. [5] kaku-zukuri, square-cut sushi; here, toro from Fish For Sushi.

     

    Shichimi Togarashi

    Nori Strips

    [6] Shichimi Togarashi, a blend of seven Japanese spices (photo courtesy Yahoo). [7] Nori strips, scissor-cut from nori sheets (photo courtesy Food Sharing With Little One).

     

    4. PICK YOUR DRESSING.

    Rice vinegar and/or lime juice with olive oil (and a splash of sesame oil if you have it) make an excellent basic vinaigrette for sashimi salad.

    You can also add salad oil to ponzu sauce.

    Here are some more-elaborate favorites:

  • Wasabi-passionfruit dressing.
  • Yuzu dressing.
  • Nobu’s sashimi salad dressing is simple: onion, rice vinegar, water, mustard and pinches of granulated sugar, sea salt and black pepper.
  • For something more lively, take a look at this mint cilantro vinaigrette.
  • This gluten-free ginger dressing uses tamari instead of soy sauce, plus green onions and a splash of sake.
  • If you like things spicy, check out spicy Korean sashimi salad, hwe dap bap, which uses gochujang, spicy red pepper paste.
  • Or, simply splash some sriracha into the vinaigrette. This fusion recipe combines soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, lime juice and sriracha.
  •  
     
    5. PICK YOUR GARNISH.

  • Citrus zest or julienned strips
  • Crispy Chinese noodle or wonton strips
  • Nori strips (photo #7)
  • Scallions, finely-sliceds
  • Sesame seeds—black, white, regular or toasted
  • Shichimi togarishi, Japanese spice blend (red chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed)
  • Tobiko (flying fish roe), available in different colors (green, orange, red, yellow) and flavors, like wasabi tobiko
  •  
     
    6. BEVERAGE PAIRINGS

  • Green tea or black tea, hot or iced (but no milk and sugar in the black tea). We especially like Genmaicha, green tea with toasted rice that gives it a lovely, nutty; flavor.
  • Mineral water, especially sparkling with a high level of minerals.
  • Rosé, sparkling wine or white wine.
  • Sparkling water/club soda, plain or citrus-flavored.
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 30 Ideas For Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    For something delicious, impressive, healthful (except when loaded with cheese) and easy to make, we love meaty stuffed portabella mushrooms. We have our favorite fall transition recipes, as the lighter foods of summer transition to the heartier autumn and winter recipes.

    Stuffed portables are so versatile.

  • They can be vegan, vegetarian or stuffed with ground meat or poultry.
  • They can be filled with scrambled eggs and kale for breakfast, used instead of English muffins for a twist on Eggs Benedict.
  • Substitute ‘shroom for bread: the bun of a burger, the slices for grilled cheese.
  •  
    MUSHROOM COOKING TIPS

    To avoid sogginess:

    1. WIPE the mushrooms clean. Don’t wet them or or they’ll absorb water. You can use a slightly damp paper towel or a dry mushroom brush, which is softer than other vegetable brushes so it doesn’t bruise the delicate flesh.

    2. PRE-BROIL or pre-bake for 3 minutes or so, to release some of the mushroom’s natural water. Then stuff and return to the heat.

    3. COOK until the topping is just browned. Overcooking will release any remaining natural mushroom moisture into the your filling, as it dries out the mushroom.
     
    DIFFERENT STUFFINGS FOR PORTABELLAS

    Appetizers Or First Courses

  • Herbed goat cheese (garnish with croutons)
  • Mock onion soup: caramelized onions, croutons (or one large crouton) and gruyère (photo #4)
  • Pork or chicken sausage, spinach and smoked mozzarella; or lamb sausage with spinach and feta
  •  
    Salads

  • Artichoke hearts (not marinated) and pimiento (roasted red pepper) with optional pepper jack cheese
  • Caprese: chopped tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, drizzled with EVOO
  • “Cheese course” (photo #4)
  • Corn and black bean salad
  • Israeli salad: chopped cucumbers, tomatoes
  • Mesclun/baby greens with garnishes of choice (photo #1)
  • Salad base (“edible salad bowl”): arugula, spinach (with bacon and chopped onions)
  •  
    Sides

  • Caramelized onions and bacon (or variation: pork belly, proscuitto)
  • Cornbread stuffing, sausage and optional jalapeno
  • Grains: barley, pilaf, quinoa, risotto, wild rice, etc.
  • Gratins
  • Ratatouille
  • Mashed: cauliflower (photo #2), potatoes (photo #3), acorn/butternut squash
  • Pasta: orzo, soup pasta
  • Polenta, topped with shaved radicchio
  • Three bean salad
  • Dressing: bread cubes, onion, celery and anything else you add with the turkey dressing
  •  
    Mains

  • Chicken cubes, broccoli florets and sundried tomatoes
  • Chicken salad with apples, celery, red onion and parsley or other favorite recipe (we like this curried chicken salad with grapes)
  • Grilled cheese: the mushroom becomes the toast
  • Leftovers: stretch short ribs, stew, whatever (photo #7)
  • Portabella “pizza,” with marinara sauce, mozzarella, and your favorite pizza toppings stuffed into the cap (photo #9—anchovies, anyone?)
  • Shredded pork or other protein, with barbecue sauce or other condiment
  • Seafood gratin (photo #8)
  • “Tacos,” with seasoned chopped beef or turkey, chopped tomatoes or drained pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, sour cream or grated/crumbled cheese and a tortilla strips garnish
  •  
    CONSIDER…

  • Brush the caps with a flavored oil—basil, truffle, etc.—instead of olive oil spray.
  • Pay attention to seasonings. We’re big on fresh herbs.
  • Raw mushrooms can be used in salad preparations; but you can cook them if you prefer.
  • Garnish for fun and flavor, from breadcrumbs to pickled jalapeños.
  • Consider international focus, such as spinach, feta and oregano (with optional ground lamb), and curry, almonds and raisins.
  •  
    RECIPE: SPINACH-STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    Frozen spinach is a time saver in this easy recipe (photo #6, the bottom photo at right).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 portabella mushroom caps
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the oven rack in the middle and preheat the broiler on the high setting. Line a baking sheet with foil.

    2. WIPE the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel or a mushroom brush. Remove the stems and reserve for another purpose (eggs, salad, etc.). Spray the caps on both sides with the olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

    3. BROIL for 5 minutes on each side, or until just tender. While the mushrooms cook…

    4. DEFROST the spinach in the microwave according to package directions; place in a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, press on the cooked spinach with your hands and extract as much water as possible out of it. Repeat this until you can extract more water (we wring it with our hands).

       
    Starters & Sides
    Salad-Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

    Mashed Cauliflower Stuffed Portabella

    Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

    Garlic-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    Portabella Gratinee

    Spinach Stuffed Portabella

    [1] Enjoy a small salad in a portabella cap. You don’t have to cook the cap, but you certainly can. Here’s the recipe from Pom Wonderful. [2] Cauliflower purée in a portabella cap, from The Purple Carrot. [3] Mushrooms gratin: Fill with shredded gruyère or other melting cheese. Here’s the original recipe from Urban Accents). We turned ours into mock onion soup, filling the cap with caramelized onions, gruyere croutons. [4] Who could turn down mashed potatoes and bacon? Here’s the recipe from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. [5] This starter or side from A Food Centric Life is filled with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and lots of chopped herbs. We substituted garlic cloves for the goat cheese, and sprinkled on crumbled cheese when the ‘shrooms came out of the oven. [6] Easy spinach-stuffed portables from Healthy Recipes Blog.

     
    5. REMOVE the mushrooms from the oven. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (about 3 minutes). Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until golden stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, spinach, the rest of the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to blend, for 1 to 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and cool a few minutes; then mix in the Parmesan.

    6. FILL the mushroom caps with the stuffing, piled high. Place back under the broiler on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, or until the filling is golden.

     

    Main Courses

    Turkey-Broccoli-Cheddar Portobello

    Portobello Pizza

    Lobster Stuffed Portobello

    [7] Toss together leftovers: here, turkey, broccoli and cheddar (photo courtesy Mushroom Info). [8] Turn portabellas into mini pizza (here’s the recipe from Picture The Recipe). [9] Lobster in a cream sherry sauce (photo courtesy Mushroom Council).

     

    IS IT PORTABELLA, PORTABELLO OR PORTOBELLO?
    AND THE HISTORY OF PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    How can one mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, have three different spellings? After all, chanterelle is chanterelle, morel is morel, porcini is porcini.

    The answer: When Americans began to grow and sell cremini mushrooms in southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1960s, it was a very small output. The growers were largely from Italy, and grew the creminis they missed from the old country.

    A 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News noted that initially there was no market for the creminis. The public wanted pristine white mushrooms. Fortunately, the back-to-earth movement of the 1960s and 1970s opened the door for the growers to make another stab at selling them.

    According to Food Timeline, food experts generally agree on these points when it comes to the history of portabellas:

  • By accident, growers found that creminis that weren’t harvested grew into extra-large mushrooms (what became known as portabellas). These large mushrooms are here today despite early efforts to thwart them.
  • Both cremini and portobello mushrooms are first mentioned in the New York Times during the mid 1980s. The growers named the new variety. Portabella means “beautiful door; portobello means “beautiful port.”
  • In a 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News on the growing popularity of portabellas, Wade Whitfield of the Mushroom Council, an industry trade group, noted, “They are really culls. You didn’t want them in the mushroom bed. [Growers] would throw them away. There was no market. Growers would take them home.”
  • Whitfield then noted: “This thing has gone from nearly zero in 1993 to a predicted 30 million pounds this year. It’s a major item. It will be the largest specialty mushroom.”
  • According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, “‘portobello’ began to be used in the 1980s as a brilliant marketing ploy to popularize an unglamorous mushroom that, more often than not, had to be disposed of because growers couldn’t sell them.”
  • There is no definitive spelling. According to Food Timeline, an un-scientific Google survey at one point showed that portobello got the most searches (169,000), followed by portabella (33,100) and portobella (3,510). Wade Whitfield noted The Mushroom Council preferred “portabella”; we use “portabella” because we prefer how it rolls off the tongue.
  • We must point out, vis-a-vis the spelling variations of portabella, that cremini is also spelled crimini, and also called the brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom and Roman mushroom. Newer marketing names including baby portobellos, mini bellas and portabellinis. “Baby Bella” is a trademarked name.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MUSHROOMS IN OUR MUSHROOM GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.