Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms

Jill Nussinow — From The Veggie Queen by Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, Vegetarian Connection Press: Santa Rosa, 2005. Reprinted with permission from the author. To learn more about Jill and her work visit her website.

Appetizers don’t need to be complicated. This one works because everyone knows that it is a treat to have shiitake mushrooms. You can boost your immune system while savoring the flavors.

Vegetable oil spray (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 ounces sausage flavor Gimme Lean or other soy sausage
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
8 to 12 large shiitake mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spray a small bit of oil in a large sauté pan placed over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. If the mixture begins to stick, add a tablespoon of water or broth.

Put the cooked onions and garlic into a bowl. Add the parsley, Gimme Lean, and bread crumbs and stir to combine.

Cut the stems away from the mushrooms as they are quite tough (but you can save them for stock). Mound the filling into the mushroom caps with a spoon, pressing firmly with the inside of the spoon to form a smooth mound. Put the mushrooms on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the filling feels firm and hot. These must be served hot or the filling texture will be mushy.

Note: To make breadcrumbs, you can use fresh, stale, or lightly toasted bread. Put one slice into the food processor and process until you have crumbs.

Dry Sautéing

Some authors of fat-free recipes suggest adding some type of liquid to pan “sauté” the initial ingredients, which for me usually includes onions and garlic. But what you end up with are steamed or boiled vegetables instead of a sauté.

My technique requires that you have a heavy-bottomed nonstick pan. Most of these pans should not be used over heat higher than medium as it tends to burn the pan’s nonstick coating. That’s why I start with a dry pan over medium heat.

I call this method dry sautéing. Put the pan on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the ingredients in the order listed and for the recommended cooking times. The key to preventing burnt food is to stir occasionally and look at the ingredients to be sure nothing is sticking or burning. If that begins to happen, add water, broth, juice, or wine, a tablespoon at a time so you can easily scrape off the stuck-on food particles. Do not add so much liquid that the ingredients get soggy, or you will not be sautéing.

I have found that dry sautéing is the best oil-free method for extracting the most flavor from food. It is one of the easiest ways I know of for eliminating a tablespoon of fat and 100 calories from your diet