Food magazines may share tips for fabulous gluten-free sides or recipes for a Paleo Thanksgiving. I’ll pass. To me, the holidays aren’t about the newest trend, but rather going back to the old favorites that you’ve always loved.
We’ll spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws this year. I’m excited about the trip and have spent lots of time thinking about the food we’ll enjoy. Thanksgiving always kicks off with smoked salmon accompanied by a glass of bubbly. From there, I know in my mind and in my mouth each dish that will grace the Thanksgiving table: a heaping plate of dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and, of course, turkey with my mother-in-law’s signature gravy.
I’ve embraced these traditions over the past years and they have become my own. I like to think that my husband would say the same thing about Christmas which we spend with my family. That Christmas to him includes my mother’s baked brie with almonds and parsley, marinated beef tenderloin with onion gravy, potato casserole with a crispy cornflake topping, and for breakfast, a slice of my mother’s sugar-cake paired with my Dad’s country ham with red-eye gravy.
We spent the holidays alone last year. We started some new traditions (note to my husband: the fragrant truffle that arrived by mail the day before Christmas is certainly one that we should keep), but we also made sure to include those family traditions that to us define the holidays. For that’s the thing with tradition, all it takes is a bite of smoked salmon with a sip of champagne or a forkful of sugar-cake on Christmas morning to bring you a little closer to home.
For these reasons, a smile spread across my face the other day when a client asked about stuffed mushrooms for her party. She wanted to know if serving them as an appetizer would be a bit dated. Hardly, I replied as I added them to the list. Stuffed mushrooms are classic. They are traditional. And a bit of tradition mixed in with the hottest new recipes makes for a delicious and memorable holiday season.
Gruyère and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes about one dozen stuffed mushrooms
For a more decadent stuffed mushroom, dip the mushroom caps in melted butter before stuffing and baking. The outside of the cap will brown better and you won’t complain about the extra butter.
12 large white mushrooms (about 12 ounces)
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small shallot (about ¼ cup), finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
8 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and drained (see the cooking tip)
1/3 cup coarsely ground breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling over the top
1/3 to ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
Salt, to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Clean the mushrooms by washing them briefly under water, brushing them with a pastry brush, or wiping them with a slightly damp paper towel. Carefully remove the stems.
Place the mushroom caps on the baking sheet. Trim the ends from the stems and finely chop enough of the mushroom stems to equal a ¼ cup. Set aside. The remaining mushroom stems can be discarded or used for another purpose
Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the chopped shallot and mushrooms stems and sauté until just soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the spinach and cook until heated through. Stir in the breadcrumbs.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add the cheeses. Stir to combine. Season generously to taste with salt and white pepper.
Fill each mushroom cap with the spinach mixture packing the mixture in gently. Grate some parmesan cheese over the top and bake the mushrooms for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve warm.
Cooking Tip: The easiest way to drain cooked spinach is to squeeze the spinach between two dinner plates. Simply place the spinach on top of a dinner plate and then place another dinner plate, bottom side down, on top of the spinach. Pick up the plates, turn them sideways, and squeeze them together over a sink.