Daring Cooks' Challenge: Vegan Pesto-Pistachio Portobellos

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

I first made a Cooking Light nut butter recipe back when I was still living at home. It was their delectable Chicken with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms. I've made that recipe several times because it's so delicious. I've also done a few experiments with Fettuccine and Cashew Cream. Soooo delicious. Since I'd already done Cooking Light-based nut butters, I decided to actually branch out and...*gasp*...INVENT SOMETHING.

Nut butters are fantastic for vegans. They're rich and full of the fat and protein that vegans need to sustain themselves. I wondered what I could make vegan that vegans don't usually get to eat. Then it hit me: Stuffed mushrooms! Stuffed mushrooms with pistachio nut butter! ....and pesto! And let's face it, pesto-pistachio is just fun to say.

Caveat emptor: I made this recipe up. That is to say, I don't have a hard and fast recipe, and I didn't really measure anything (just to make things extra difficult for anyone who wants to try this out). Bear with me.

Pesto-Pistachio Portobellos

-5 portobello mushroom caps
-At least 1 cup (if not more) of shelled pistachios
-3.5 ounce package fresh basil leaves (that's probably 1 - 1 1/2 cups packed)
-2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
-1/8 cup or so of pine nuts
-1 teaspoon dried parsley (if you have fresh, USE IT. I forgot to buy any. Dumb.)
-1/2 fresh tomato, chopped roughly
-1 carrot, cut into rounds
-Olive oil

1. Very gently remove mushroom stems from portobellos and create a hole for the filling. If you've ever made stuffed mushrooms before with button mushrooms, you know that usually it's easy to just twist the stem out of the cap. That's NOT the case with portobellos. The portobello cap will just break if you try that. So don't. Instead, use a paring knife to slice it off at the bottom, and then continue on very gently until you have a hole that's deep enough but doesn't break through the bottom.

2. Pour your pistachios into a food processor. Process for about 4 minutes, or until pistachios get beyond crumbly and clump together. Yay, pistachio butter! Remove from processor and set aside in a bowl.

Pretty green pistachio butter. Om nom.

3. In the food processor, add basil, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, tomato, carrot, and olive oil (I did two quick circles around the food processor with oil). Puree until it's nice and combined.

4. Using a fork to combine, add enough pesto to the pistachio butter until it's spreadable and is tasty to your liking. I kept adding a tablespoonful at a time and tasting until it was where I wanted it (which was "not too overwhelmingly pistachio-y." VERY scientific, I know.)

5. Preheat the broiler.

6. Spoon that pesto-pistachio into the caps and level it with a spoon.

These are WAY lovelier before cooking.

7. Broil for only 4-5 minutes. They will turn ugly and black on top (probably all the fat), but I promise they're not actually burned. Serve hot.

Inside the Very Ugly Mushroom lays gooey goodness.

Verdict: Greg loved these, and I liked them but think they could use some tweaking. They were VERY rich. I added the tomato and carrot to the pesto in hopes of cutting the richness, but it only worked somewhat. I think these would be much better if they were made into appetizers with button mushrooms, rather than used as a main course. Or, if they were used as a main course, the recipe should be modified a bit. Ah well, it was still tasty. :)


Lo said...

Oh, yeah -- I'll bet these would make fantastic appetizers. I love the fact that you used pistachios! Nice call. I wonder if you could sub them out entirely for the pine nuts.

cynnerth said...

That has to be one of those foods that taste better than they look!

Marisa said...

Agree with Lo - think these would make perfect appetizers and maybe the richness wouldn't be such a problem if you used smaller mushrooms so that they are just bite-sized? Anyway, I think you did great on this challenge, especially with the vegan twist.

blepharisma said...

Lovely! Smart you actually branched from the suggested recipes. This one looks particularly delicious.

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