When you look at a restaurant menu, usually the last entree in the ‘entree section’ includes a vegetarian selection. It’s almost as though the chef considers it to be an after-thought. Which, in most cases, it is. What goes through a chef’s mind when he is writing new menus? Proteins. Tenderloin with what? Veal chop with risotto… What will go well with my grilled chicken? The first thing that comes to mind isn’t usually the vegetarian option. And of course the menu reflects this attitude. You get the usual: wild mushroom risotto, 4 cheese ravioli with some sort of spinach and cheese sauce, stuffed shells, the famous tofu napolean, or a bunch of ‘sides’ compiled into some sort of entree
There are, of course, a lot of restaurants these days who specialize in vegetarian cuisine. Some handmade vegetable burgers are quite delicious. Linguine made from tofu is almost as good as the real thing. Eggplant curry is delicious. It’s great to embrace these items when meat is removed from the menu. And realistically, when faced with the situation of ‘meat removal’, many chefs panic and don’t know what to do.
So they go onto the internet, open up google, and look at what other chefs are doing. If it works for them, maybe you can put your own ‘spin’ on it, and make it work for you.
I am proud to say that this is my own recipe, and I think it embodies my philosophy of food: let simple ingredients shine, build flavors and focus on balance. For those of you interested in a good vegetarian recipe, give this a try!
Artichoke stuffed Portabella Mushrooms, and parmesan cheese
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 1 hr
4 portabella mushroom caps, stems and gills removed
5 artichokes (either canned and marinaded, or preferably braised, see my Monterey Bay post)
1 red pepper, small dice
1/2 bunch parsley, fine chop
1/2 bunch chives, fine chop
1 shallot, fine chop
1 large organic egg
panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
1 tsp paprika
extra virgin olive oil
shredded parmesan cheese
cracked black pepper
Heat a grill to med-high heat. Coat the portabello with balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Grill until tender, let cool.
Cut, or shred the artichokes into small pieces. In a mixing bowl, add the artichokes, parsley, chive, pepper, paprika, old bay, shallot, and egg. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add panko until bound (meatball consistency).
Heat an oven to 375. Mound the artichoke filling into the mushrooms. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese Roast until cooked through and lightly browned on top.
When completely cooked, remove, let cool slightly and serve right away.
If you don’t mind shellfish in your vegetarian option, than add crab meat to the mix. I love this with corn/jalapeno jam, braised endive and charred/grilled vegetables.