Do you need a fancy recipe for date night? A romantic dinner for two? Are your in-laws or boss coming over for dinner, and you need to impress? Periodically, Champagne Tastes will be featuring ‘Gourmet’ recipes. These will still be budget friendly and relatively simple, but will help you confidently serve a gourmet meal without hiring a chef.
Three years ago last July, I dressed up all fancy-like, and went to dinner with my parents at a tiny French restaurant downtown. When I opened the door, I thought, “Did they just start playing the love song from Phantom of the Opera?” I walked in farther and thought, “Huh.. We’re the only ones here. That’s nice.” Then I walked a little farther in, past a little half-wall, where I stopped in confusion. “What’s the boyfriend doing here? Why is he crouched down on his knee? Why is he holding that sparkly ring? (Pause for mental comprehension)– HE’S HOLDING A SPARKLY RING!” What else do I remember from that night? For one, trying to convince my parents to try escargot (they declined), trying to eat said escargot with shaky hands, and the wonderful, decadently delicious Portobello Wellington that I attempted to eat while recovering from shock. We’ve been back to that little French bistro several times since that night, however (both fortunately and unfortunately) it’s one of those wonderful places where the chef changes the menu seasonally. The seasonal changes mean that, while I’ve always left ecstatically food happy, I’ve never seen my beloved Portobello Wellington again. The solution to the Case of the Missing Mushroom? Cook it myself!
Making Portobello Wellington
Portobello Wellington is the vegetarian cousin of the much meatier, and beefier, (hence the name!) Beef Wellington. This vegetarian version is simple to prepare, ready in 30 minutes, and bursting with flavor. The large mushroom caps are lightly roasted, along with some julienned red bell pepper slices. While the veggies are roasting, cut some puff pastry into squares. Next, set one mushroom cap, rounded side down, onto the pastry. Fill the cap with the peppers, tomatoes, goat cheese,* and herbs. Top with another mushroom cap, rounded side up, and then pull the pastry up around the mushrooms. Twist the pastry dough into a little knot at the top, and brush with egg white. Bake until the pastry top is golden– 12-15 minutes. The mushroom at the French bistro was served over risotto, and it was delicious. However, I also love this savory vegetable dish over pasta, or with crusty bread. Enjoy this fanciful dinner of mushroomy deliciousness for a special occasion, or just because you want to devour something amazing.
Note: Try really hard to use goat cheese and not a substitute. It’s creamy right away, and other cheese I’ve tried using didn’t have time to fully melt before the puff pastry was done cooking. If you can’t use goat cheese, use mascarpone or cream cheese with varying results.
Want more fancy-schmancy meal ideas? Try these:
- ~1/2 sheet puff pastry (more or less depending on the size of the mushrooms)
- 4 portobello mushroom heads
- 1 TB olive oil
- pinch salt, pepper
- 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
- 1/2 tomato, diced
- 2 oz goat cheese
- 4-6 basil leaves
- 1 egg white
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Scrape gills from interior of mushrooms. Drizzle mushrooms and peppers with oil, and add salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Increase oven heat to 400ºF.
Cut pastry into 2 equal square parts, large enough to wrap around 2 mushroom heads that are sandwiched. If squares are too small, roll pastry out to make it thinner.
Set one mushroom cap in the center of each square, and fill each mushroom cap with half of the pepper, tomato, goat cheese, and basil. Cover the two stuffed mushrooms with the remaining mushroom caps. Pull pastry corners together to cover the mushrooms and twist the pastry ends together on top into a knot. If the pastry rips at all, just put a drop of water onto the tear and smooth the dough back together. Brush the pastry with egg white, and then bake 12-15 minutes, until the pastry top is golden brown.
Serve hot with crusty bread, pasta, or a grain.