Thursday, June 10, 2010

Marvelously Meatless: Mushroom Stacks

Once in a while, in the life of a culinary experimentalist, a recipe will come along that will blow you away--usually it's one that doesn't require major skill or complicated ingredients. It's a recipe that pares a dish down to basic, wholesome ingredients. This is that kind of recipe for me.

I must give kuddos to Tosha Kurzynske--the sister of a good friend of mine (Heather) that made something like this for us back in college when we were able to have a weekend getaway to Lexington, KY. Their sister, Nikki, and her family do an Asiago cheese version and serve it at every New Years---what a great idea! Thank you girls and your mom (the nutritionist) for wonderful experiences-but also for inspiration.

And, yes, I put that plate out on my patio ledge because I needed the light. I'm just that dorky--and running out of options.

I hope you love this--and of course you can substitute Vegan cheeses.


Makes 4 servings.

1st Layer: Cheese Grits Base
• 4 ½ cups water
• 1 cup old fashioned grits
• 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any cheese of your liking-asiago is a good option. You can skip the cheese, but I think the dish wouldn’t be the same without it.)
• 1/8 tsp. paprika
• 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
• Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium-sized pot, boil water. Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 12-14 minutes or until the grits have thickened—stirring occasionally. While the grits are cooking, you can start on the portabella layer. When grits have thickened, add the cheese, garlic powder, paprika, and salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

2nd Layer: Mushroom
• 4 big portabella mushroom caps, stemmed
• Olive oil or olive oil spray
• Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Clean portabella mushrooms by shaking off any excess dirt. I like to peel the skin right on top, but you don’t have to—just a quick rinse will do either before or after and then shake off any excess water. Place mushrooms (caps up) on a big baking sheet (you can add tinfoil to the pan first to help with cleanup). Drizzle with olive oil (or use olive oil spray-I prefer this method) and then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms in the preheated oven and roast for about 20 minutes.

3rd Layer: Spinach
• 10 oz. frozen, chopped spinach

Defrost spinach according to package directions (my package said to microwave for 7-9 minutes). Drain well.

Garnish: Tomato and Black Eyed Pea Relish
• 1 (15oz) can black eyed peas, drained
• 2-3 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
• 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
• 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
• 1-2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
• Salt & pepper to taste
• Pinch of sugar (optional-I don’t care for it but I was told the relish was supposed to be sweet)

Gently mix all these ingredients together, being careful not to smash the peas.

Topping (optional):
• Grated cheese (your choice)


Assemble the stacks by dividing the grits out among four plates. Then top the grits on each plate with a portabella mushroom. Next, divide the spinach evenly among the four plates.

Then, you can either top the stacks with the black eyed pea and tomato mixture or you can surround the stacks with the evenly divided mixture. Either way, it makes for a great presentation.

I thought they needed a little finish so I sprinkled the mushroom stacks with a mixture of grated Parmesan-Reggiano and Asiago cheeses. (Some of you may scoff at mixing sophisticated Italian cheeses with the down-home nature of Wisconsin Cheddar—but let me tell you—it was good!)


  1. Wow! This is going on the menu ASAP. That looks and sounds amazing!

  2. It's really much easier than it seems. Let me know how it turns out for you. I'm not sure I mentioned that you can grill the mushrooms too.