One of the suggestions I had for my blog was to post recipes that would be compatible with the Whole 30 Diet. Not just Whole 30, but specifically Vegetarian Whole 30. This is the first recipe that I am deeming Veg 30!
For those of you unfamiliar with the program, you eliminate specific food groups (gluten, dairy, sugar, etc.) from your diet for 30 days in order to improve your health.
I found this recipe online here and thought it was a good one to start with. You can find the recipe with my changes below.
I used crimini mushrooms because I like their texture better, firmer and very good in recipes where there’s no meat. If you like white button mushrooms, go for it. Just remember to use ones big enough to be an appetizer.
As always, my notes are after the recipe.
Mini Balsamic Mushroom Caps
7 crimini mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth (including the stem)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 onion slice, about 1/4″ thick, diced finely
1 1/2 C. chopped baby spinach
1 1/2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely minced (hold the stem and pull against the direction of the leaves to strip the herbs off)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste (black or cayenne pepper – either is fine)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking pan with foil and set aside.
2. Combine the balsamic vinegar with the 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, thyme and basil; Whisk and set aside.
3. Destem the six largest mushrooms by twisting off the stem, and cleaning the inside with a spoon. Reserve the stems (no waste) and chop finely along with the smallest mushrooms. I really like the added filler the extra mushroom and stems provided.
4. Heat a skillet over low-medium heat and add 1 tsp. olive oil. When it starts to ripple slightly, add the onion and garlic. Cook about 3 minutes – you don’t want to stir-fry them, you want them to sweat. This means you want the onions to start turning translucent, and they’ll lose some of their water and become more tender. Adjust the heat if the pan starts to look dry and the onions start to brown quickly. Add in the chopped mushroom and mushroom stems and cook another couple of minutes.
Note: This is where I seasoned. The tiniest pinches of salt and cayenne pepper. I added about 1/4 tsp. dried basil, completely optional. (Always remember to grind dried spices in your hand before adding, to release the oils).
6. Add the spinach, and cook just another minute: Spinach cooks very quickly.
Remove the pan from the heat when the spinach still has a bright green color (see below).
7. Dip the butt of each mushroom into the vinegar/oil mixture and arrange in the lined pan.
I put about 2 tsp. of filling into each cap. You can top each filled mushroom with a little more glaze (I suggest no more than one teaspoon of glaze for each cap).
Note: You may eat any remaining filling from the pan. I may or may not have done this.
8. Bake for 12 minutes. The mushrooms will look a little wilty (yes, this is a word); Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes, then plate them. Let cool about 5 more minutes so they don’t fall apart when you try and taste them. Didn’t stop me! Given the choice, I’d prefer them a little warm.
- The original recipe calls for a chopped tomato to be added to the mixture. You can see in the picture I tried this with a few of them, but didn’t like it. Too much acid, when combined with the vinegar, and I don’t feel like it added anything.
- As you can see from the picture, with three of the mushrooms I added 1/2 Tbs. grated Asiago cheese to the filling and topped with more cheese. Not part of the Veg 30 diet, I realize, but thought I should test it out nonetheless. Aside from a slightly nutty taste, I didn’t find it to be a great addition, and liked it without the cheese better.
- When I scaled down the recipe from the original, I found the garlic to be very, very strong. I would even use 1 clove for 10 mushrooms. Same with the onion, it was a lot (and I like onion!).
- I wanted more spinach/onion ratio, so I kept adding until it looked and tasted right. I measured (for you!), but if you don’t want to, just chop up about three handfuls of baby spinach.
- I didn’t add any sweetener because it’s not allowed with this diet, but if I made this recipe again, I’d heat up the oil/vinegar mixture and add a pinch of brown sugar to counteract the acidity.
- If you don’t have balsamic vinegar, I’d suggest buying an aged one. It doesn’t need to be expensive. I bought Ortalli because it had no caramel coloring (quite a frequent ingredient in balsamic vinegar), it was aged, and a decent price. I liked it, sweet and fragrant. No added sugar, just natural sweetness! If you have one in the cupboard, have at it.
- I don’t know if I would make this exact recipe again. The filling was so tasty, I just might make that! It is so easy to make a large batch. Scoop with some celery or use it to fill some endive leaves. Yum!
If you try it, let me know what you think and what changes you made!