Last night, we celebrated my brother’s 30th birthday. Just as when I tipped into my thirties, my Mom was adamant about hosting a party for close family. Like last time, she transported everything from Ottawa and did last-minute prepping and baking in my brother’s kitchen. Moving before we hit 30 seems to be a theme in our family, as she navigated a new kitchen.
I offered to bring something. I was flat-out refused. I even asked if she had reconsidered a few days earlier. No. Although she leaked the menu to me: lentil salad and portobello mushrooms for me. (YES!) While I initially agreed that simple fruit would an ample dessert, she asked if I would like the Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie instead. Obviously, I thought it was a fantastic idea. All of my favourite recipes!
Of course my Mom went all out. Roasted red pepper hummus and raw veggies as early nibblers along with spanakopita from my brother’s in-laws. Three salads: a leafy green with a balsamic dressing, my favourite 11-Spice Lentil Salad with apples and arugula (aka the Best Lentil Salad Ever) and a bacon-broccoli salad. Roasted balsamic portobello mushrooms were baked, instead of grilled, along with the salmon. A magnificent zuccotto dome cake and my Almost Guiltless cake for dessert. I loved how my healthy eats were interspersed among the options and enjoyed by everyone, including my brother’s in-laws who were still inquiring as to what vegan means. It was fun to see them guess what exactly was in the dessert that had no flour, no grains, no eggs, no cream, no dairy, and no sugar and still taste delicious. We forgot to tell them the filling was no-bake, too (my Mom experimented with baking the almond-date crust this time).
While I am hesitant to call vegetables “steaks”, the baked mushrooms were compared to steaks last night. Since I used to enjoy my steak on the blue side (when I ate meat), I can see some parallels (moreso than if you like your steak well done), but these mushrooms are a pale comparison for anyone expecting steak. However, they are still one of my favourite meals.
Rob and I have been without a barbecue for a while now, but I have been experimenting with a different way to enjoy roasted balsamic mushrooms. Now I know baking works, too, but in the days of the hot summer, I know I can also make them on the stovetop as well. Not as good as the barbecue, but I am not complaining.
Balsamic mushrooms are marinaded in an herbed sherry-balsamic broth and then braised in the same sauce. The sauce is then reduced, used to wilt spinach and lastly drizzled overtop quinoa. I normally don’t make separate sides, but this was simple despite its multiple components.
Do you eat more one-pot dishes or tend to make lots of simple sides instead?
Braised Portobello Steaks & Spinach with a Balsamic Sauce
Adapted from Happy Herbivore
2-4 large portobello caps, stems removed, removing any dirt
1 cup broth (I used 1 cup water + 1 tbsp no-chicken broth powder from Happy Herbivore, substitute with 1 tbsp nutritional yeast with a dash of smoked paprika, thyme, sage, garlic granules, onion granules, turmeric and parsley)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sherry
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 bunch spinach, stemmed (100g)
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
3/4 cup broth
1. If you have the time, marinate your mushrooms for at least an hour: place portobello caps, broth, balsamic vinegar, sherry, thyme and basil in a container, gill side down, (or plastic bag) and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
2. Meanwhile, prepare your quinoa: Bring water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add quinoa. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Keep covered for an additional 5 minutes to steam. Set aside.
3. In a medium non-stick skillet [something that will fit all of your mushrooms] over medium-low heat, heat oil. Add onion and saute until translucent, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, another 2 minutes.
4. Pour in all of the marinade (but not the mushrooms). Cover and increase heat to medium to bring to a low simmer. Carefully place mushrooms in liquid. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Carefully flip mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms but keep the marinade in the skillet. Place spinach in the skillet, cover and simmer for 1 minute, until wilted and a brilliant green.
5. To serve, place mushroom on plate with a side of spinach and quinoa. Drizzle with any remaining marinade.
Serves 2, feel free to double.