A number of rare or newly experienced foods have been claimed to be aphrodisiacs. At one time this quality was even ascribed to the tomato. Reflect on that when you are next preparing the family salad.
– Jane Grigson
Firstly, sorry for the delay. Last week was a bit exhausting – on Monday after a delicious dinner of donkatsu at a local restaurant, some friends and I were hanging out in the park and I suddenly felt ill. Cue the next three days getting as much sleep after school as I could. I had a wee temperature the first few days along with a scratchy throat and general “weak” feeling. Then on Friday and Saturday our local education office whisked us off to Jeonju, a city famous for bibimbap, which is one of my all time favourite foods here in Korea. Actually, it’s up there as one of my favourite dishes ever. So, between getting tons of sleep and going off to Jeonju, this post was on hold. However, I think the delay will have been worth it, as I got to experiment a bit more with my balsamic roasted tomatoes.
As mentioned in a previous post, my friend Kate and I were supposed to have a Wine and Mushroom night a few weeks ago but we weren’t able to make it happen. Well, last Friday (as in two Fridays ago), we had it and it was a blast. A quick stop in the local Asia Mart where we piled up on fresh basil and cilantro/coriander for our mushroom fiesta. We then met at my house and cracked open a bottle of Casillero del Diablo.
Sated with wine, we proceeded to chop, slice, dice, blend and stuff delicious ingredients into mushrooms. Kate had decided on a vegan offering and my own contribution was caprese inspired. Both were amazing and we had so much fun preparing them and discussing all things food related from the benefits of vegan diets to the glories of balsamic vinegar. Amongst the many things we discussed was how crazy it was that Koreans use tomatoes in fruit salad. However, by the end of the evening, as we munched on the remaining balsamic laden tomatoes, we mused that we could understand why tomatoes are a fruit and used as such in Korea. Between the roasting and the balsamic vinegar those tomatoes, while delicious, were incredibly sweet.
All in all, the evening was a resounding success. Except, as we discovered,
drunk man drunk girl can’t survive on stuffed mushrooms alone! Next time we will definitely need some pasta or potatoes to keep us going and to prevent us from getting buzzed on just a few glasses of wine. We may only have a few Fridays left together in Korea (Kate leaves in September) but I hope that we can use at least some of them for mushroom and wine filled adventures!
As Kate and I had so much fun making these mushrooms, I am excited to announce that Spoon in a Saucepan’s next post will be Kate’s recipe for her vegan stuffed mushrooms! Yes, we will be having our first guest writer! I am beyond excited! In the meantime, please check out her blog which is a journal of her life and thoughts here in Korea and as she travels elsewhere. While it’s not a cooking blog, Kate is a fantastic cook and she always inspires me to think outside the box.
Caprese Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves 5 -10
- around 3 cups mixed red and yellow cherry/baby roma tomatoes, washed and dried
- around 20 mushrooms, stems removed.
- ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, finely diced
- ¼ tsp dried basil
- 2-3 bunches fresh basil
- 1½ tbsp olive oil, separated
- balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- olive oil, for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Remove the stems from the tomatoes and place them in a single layer in a roasting pan.
- Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and the dried basil, and then drizzle balsamic vinegar over them.
- Place in the oven for between 40-50 minutes. Turn them once or twice.* You want the tomatoes to shrink a bit and to be nicely browned**.
- Meanwhile, dampen some paper towels and wipe each mushroom cap. Then using brush each cap with the remaining ½ tbsp of oil and then place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Toss the mozzarella with fresh basil and set aside.
- Once the tomatoes are cooked, remove from the oven. Set aside and let them cool slightly.
- Put some of the mozzarella basil mixture in the bottom of each mushroom.
- Top with one or two tomatoes depending on the size of the mushroom.
- Top with some more of the mozzarella and add fresh basil to the top.
- Repeat until all the mushrooms are filled.
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted.
- Top with some more basil, and enjoy!
*In my toaster oven I put it on for 25 minutes, turning once. Then I put it on for another 20 minutes and turn once or twice. You shouldn’t need to do this in a regular oven and around 40-50 minutes should be perfect.
*I think that somewhere between 40 and 47 minutes is the perfect amount of time – they brown nicely, but don’t let them get too blackened. Some tomatoes will blacken. Don’t discard them, they are still delicious, especially once they cool.
Make it your own: If you don’t like basil, substitute coriander or parsley.
Leftovers: If you have any of the balsamic roasted tomatoes leftover use them in salads or wraps. Also, the dregs of oil and balsamic vinegar left in the roasting pan are nice to mop up with some baguette.