Ordinary Tuesday Lunch. One of these things that challenge you to spend two hours cooking lunch just because you can and because you decide what day of the week or what time of it is special, darn it. No, I don’t care that it’s raining. Not at all.
After a stroll through the Foodgawker galleries, I settled on some stuffed mushrooms, inspired by An American in Ireland, with the Naked Beet’s silken eggplant dish and some Rosemary Potato Wedges on the side, served with sour cream and tomato sauce.
As anyone living with a Spaniard will be able to confirm, the announcement “I’ll cook something vegetarian” usually won’t be met with great enthusiasm. It’s a jamón thing. But even without jamón, though, this dish ended up on the list of things that met with Spanish approval.
Vegetarian Lunch – Stuffed Mushrooms, Sautéed Eggplant and Oven-baked Potato Wedges
Ingredients for the Eggplant Dish (for 2):
- 1/2 eggplant
- 4-5 tbsp. flour
- 1 egg
- salt & pepper
- tsp. Italian herbs (basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano – fennel, if you have. I didn’t)
- 1 small can (400ml) of tomatoes
- 1 small carrot, finely diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- tomato essence (I used triple concentrated from the tube)
- chopped parsley (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tbsp. sour cream
Instructions for the Eggplant Dish:
- You can, of course, get your instructions in the original recipe linked above (it’s a nice read). I used smaller quantities and made a few minor tweaks along the way (mainly, I didn’t have fennel to add to the herbs).
- Wash the eggplant and cut it in 5mm slices.
- Prepare a plate with the flour and a small bowl with the egg, beaten and seasoned with a dash of salt and pepper.
- Coat each slice of eggplant first with flour and then with egg.
- Heat half a spoonful of oil in a pan and roast the eggplant slices on medium to high heat until lightly browned on both sides. Set aside.
- In the same pan (wipe out if necessary), heat the other half spoonful of oil and add the onions and carrots until soft. Add the garlic.
- Open tomato can, slice tomatoes into pieced with a knife (in the can). And herbs to the can and stir. Then pour a little bit of the mixture into the pan.
- Place a round of eggplant slices on top of the tomato sauce, then cover them with more sauce. When they are covered, add the next layer of eggplant slices. Cover with sauce. Think of it as a lasagna of sorts. On top of the last layer of eggplants, pour the rest of the tomato sauce on top to have the eggplant slices lightly covered. If there is no sauce left, stir tomato essence and water inside the can, mix with remaining herbs and use that instead.
- Simmer on (very) low heat for 45 minutes (I used a lid).
- After 45 minutes, fish eggplant slices out of the pan.
- Transfer the sauce to the blender and blend until smooth.
- Stir the sour cream together with a tbsp of water in a little bowl, until smooth.
- Keep the parsley at hand to sprinkle it atop the sour cream, the tomato sauce and the eggplant before serving.
Ingredients for the Stuffed Mushrooms (for 2):
- 8 medium-sized white mushrooms
- 1/2 a carrot, finely diced
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 lonely sprig of spring onion greens, diced (it was flying around my vegetable box, so…)
- 1 tbsp. sour cream
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 clove of garlic
- some chopped chives or parsely (or both)
- salt and pepper
Instructions for the Stuffed Mushrooms:
- Got that eggplant simmering? That takes the longest, this one is quicker. Clean the mushrooms (towel, paper towel or, for the posh, mushroom brush).
- Trim the stem of each mushroom by cutting off ca. 2mm.
- Up next: art project! First, carefully break the stem out of each mushroom and collect them. Then, with a teaspoon that is not too thick or rounded at its size, try to carve out some more meat of each mushroom to have some more space for the filling. Save all stems and bits and chop them finely.
- In a pan, heat the olive oil. Add onion, spring onion and carrot. After a minute, add diced mushroom bits. Sauté on low to medium heat until the onions is soft and translucent. Then add the garlic.
- After another minute, add the parsley/chives, the sour cream and 1 tbsp. of the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and possibly some pimentón.
- Back to the art project: lightly sprinkle the topic side of the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Then, fill the content of the pan evenly into the eight mushroom heads and set them into a baking dish (you can use a baking sheet, of course, but I was afraid mine would topple over) and sprinkle everyone of them with a bit of the remaining Parmesan. This is what they look like at this point:
- Now wait until the potatoes have spent 5 minutes in the oven already, then add the baking dish to the oven and back these babies for about 20 minutes, depending on your stove (mine isn’t very good).
Ingredients for the Potato Wedges (for 2):
- 4 medium sized potatoes
- rosemary (fresh sprigs or powder)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- salt or sea salt, if you have
Instructions for the Potato Wedges:
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (ca. 400°F)
- Peel the potatoes, wash them and cut them in half lengthwise.
- Cut each half lengthwise into 4 wedges.
- Put all wedges into a bowl, add salt, rosemary and olive oil.
- Mix well with your hands until all wedges are evenly coats with oil and herbs.
- Spread potatoes out on a baking sheet (leave room for the mushrooms, if you’re making those, too) in a single layer.
- Bake for 25 minutes in the oven until they begin to brown lightly.
- In between a dollop of sour cream and a spoonful of the tomato sauce from the eggplant dish, you could try to sell these as eco-gourmet French Fries (with kind of ketchup and mayo) to your children. You’ll either be met by a groan, or you’re raising a foodie.