Tuesday, January 18, 2011

De la Casa Cuisine - Stuffed Portabellos

I am a huge fan of the greek spot over at 11th and U. There is nothing like savory gyro meat dripping with feta sauce and fresh chopped tomatoes and onions stuffed in a homemade pita. On a particularly chilly winter day I was craving the greek spot like nobody's business, but wanted something, shall we say, less calorically intensive.

So I got brainstorming on how to get the savory delight of that gyro meat out of a vegetable...the obvious choice is the vegetarian's best friend: a portabello. It's substantial and savory and seamlessly takes the place of hearty meat in several classic dishes. Why not stuff it with classic greek inspired flavors and hope for the best?

4 large portobello mushroom caps
8 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups spinach (frozen is ok!)
1 red bell pepper
1 cup feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees (no that's not a typo, you're going to roast that bell pepper and it needs to be hot!). In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil and 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in a bowl large enough for all 4 portabellos. Set aside.
Coat the pepper in remaining olive oil and place on the bottom side of a roasting pan. My friend, Bill, taught me this trick and it really gets the best roasted flavor on all sides. Place in the 500 degree oven and set a timer for 5 minutes. You will need to flip the pepper every 5 minutes on to get all four sides roasted evenly. After the pepper has roasted, set it somewhere cool to rest and lower the oven temperature to 375. Don't worry if the pepper caves in, you're just going to pull it apart in a few minutes anyway.

Remove the Portobellos from their marinade and grab your spinach (if it's frozen you'll need to defrost it before stuffing it into the mushrooms). Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper into each cap before stuffing it with spinach, then add another dash to the top of each.

Peel the skin off of the roasted bell pepper. This is definitely the least fun task, but it's so clutch because that skin is BITTER. Once it's all gone, slice the pepper into thin slivers no longer than the diameter of each mushroom cap. Nestle them into their new bed of spinach and then heap on a generous portion of feta on each cap. Toss them in the oven and set a timer for 25 minutes. Once the timer goes off the feta should be nice and tender, but not gooey.

If the portobellos survived your prep ok, they should come out of the pan in tact and make for a downright presentable dish! Buen provecho!

In hindsight, a homemade tatziki would really take this bad boy over the top. So if anyone has a good recipe, please pass it along!

Friday, January 14, 2011

701's 50th Anniversary Deal!

A three course prix-fixed lunch for $20 at one of the city's top restaurants. How can that be? Well 701 is celebrating the big 50 by offering this amazing deal through the month of January.

They're also offering a special $10 dessert of lemon poppyseed birthday cake with saffron citrus salad and Marsala ice-cream.

They had me at Marsala ice-cream!

Details: 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Nearest Metro: Literally right outside the Archives Navy Memorial Penn Quarter