As promised in our last post, we are continuing with our Thanksgiving line-up of gluten free options for the holidays. Today’s offering falls into the category of appetizers. This is also a vegetarian option – please note, that the Parmesan cheese is optional.
I was first introduced to this many years ago, on a return trip to Germany from the Northern Italian Alps. Several American friends and I had stopped for gas along the way, before entering the busy road leading to the main alpine pass, and discovered a little gem of a small ‘Pension’ (Inn) nearby, which offered pizza. Pizza then was not what we in the United States are familiar with today.
This little restaurant was just inside a small private home, which also doubled as a bed and breakfast. The innkeeper was busy preparing and baking pizza in a small wood burning brick oven in her charming little backyard. She invited us all to watch her prepare these simple, yet delicious meals. She made pizza unlike any we had seen before. It was an ultra, ultra-thin crust, made from a sourdough, topped with a thin spread of creme fraiche, several varieties of finely chopped herbs and just a hint of a tomato sauce. Forget about Americans’ favorite Chicago-style pizza, way too gooey for this local innkeeper. In fact, I think she would have been horrified at that possibility. Throughout the preparation, she stressed the simplicity of food and the importance of using what was locally available to her. It all made perfect sense, even then.
You are no doubt wondering what all of this has to do with Thanksgiving. Well, alongside this meal she served a variety of salads and stuffed mushrooms. That was my first introduction to this simple, yet tasty appetizer. The innkeeper used up any extra pizza crust available, baked and crushed it to make bread crumbs for the filling. In those days, of course, I was not yet aware of any problems with gluten intolerance, or celiac disease.
Fast forward to today – out of necessity many of these meals have now been converted into gluten free dishes that can once again be enjoyed and shared with others. We chose this particular recipe because we really like it ourselves and because it can be adjusted to easily meet the needs for any number of guests. This particular version serves, on average, about 4 people. The typical medium-sized button, or white mushrooms, are easy to work with and are readily found in most health and grocery stores.
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 packet of about 12 medium button mushrooms
- 3/4 cup whole grain gluten free breadcrumbs, made from 3 or 4 slices of toasted Udi’s Whole Grain Bread
- 1/2 finely chopped red onion
- several sprigs of fresh Italian parsley
- several sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Small amount of finely grated Parmesan cheese, optional
- Approx. 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Wash the mushrooms carefully and remove the stems. Set aside the stems, after trimming off just the very end. Place the mushroom caps in a glass baking dish and set aside.
Toast the slices of Udi’s Whole Grain Bread (or any other gluten free whole grain bread of your choice) until lightly browned. Cut into smaller pieces and process in food processor. Set aside.
Prepare a sauce pan, by adding butter and olive oil.
Finely chop the onion, garlic, Italian parsley, thyme and cleaned mushroom stems and add to the heated butter and oil.
When the onions are translucent, add the bread crumbs you prepared earlier. Blend all ingredients and remove from heat.
Using a teaspoon, fill each mushroom with enough stuffing to form a little ‘mount’ on each mushroom. Sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese over each mushroom.
Add a little water to the bottom of the baking dish and bake in a preheated oven set at 350°F/180°C for about 30 minutes. Check throughout the baking process and add a little additional water, if necessary, to prevent burning and also keep the mushrooms moist.
Enjoy this very easy to prepare appetizer and let us know what you think.