Tag Archives: mushrooms

Beet and mushroom pesto

beet pestoHello from icy and snowy Toronto! Otto and I are so happy to be here to celebrate Ukrainian Christmas with my family. Tonight we’ll have our 12-course Christmas Eve dinner, and today’s Meatless Monday dish was inspired by borscht and mushroom dumplings that are part of it (and by far my favorite or all 12).

The other day I had 5 steamed beets ready to make into creamed beets but got sidetracked, and 2 portobello mushrooms that were already sliced and sauteed and didn’t quite make it to be the gravy as intended for this unamitastic vegetarian nut loaf. The next day, I got to thinking how great the flavor combination is of the just slightly tart but salty borscht is with the earthy mushroom dumplings, so why not make it into a pesto, right? For a bit more earthiness, I added in a handful of walnuts, but unlike most pestos, I left out the cheese. However, I’m sure a little parmesan wouldn’t hurt. I added a dollop of ricotta once I served it.

I did make one mistake, though…I put it on a delicate mushroom ravioli. The problem with that was that the raviolis took over, and they fell apart as I tried to toss them with the pesto (hence no photo). I froze half of the pesto for another time, and next time around, I’ll use farfalle (as discussed here: the pasta that’s dumpling-like without being a dumpling), although I’m sure any pasta that’s not filled would do.

Beet and Mushroom Pesto, makes about 2 cups

- 2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced thin and sauteed in some butter until they’ve let go of their liquid
- one large beet, steamed, peeled, and diced
- two cloves of garlic
- one small handful of walnuts
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse together two cloves of fresh garlic and a handful of walnuts (toasted, if you’d like). Add in the beets and mushrooms and pulse some more. Then, with the food processor running, add some olive oil in (about 2 tablespoons or so? more if you like it runnier, but you can always adjust later) and a few splashes of vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix with whatever you’d like. If you are mixing it into a pasta dish, save some pasta water to help loosen and distribute the pesto nicely.

Thirty-minute holubtsi/cabbage rolls/stuffed cabbage

30minholubtsi 1Thirty-minute perogies was one of my very first posts here was just over three years ago. Today, I bring you another Rachel Ray-esque riff on a traditional Ukrainian dish: cabbage rolls! In a nutshell, these are deconstructed and require no extra time for steaming cabbage and rolling everything up.  They are also great for using leftover rice. Looking back on the perogy recipe, I see it’s not much different. But this one is all about technique and getting creative with your own personal spin. Let’s go!


Thirty-minute holubsti, serves 4

This is the basic recipe, which is meatless. You could sub out the mushrooms for a pound of ground pork or beef. And for the topping, you can use what you might use for real holubtsi: sour cream, a creamy dill sauce, some marinara if you’re into a tomatoey cabbage roll, or, as we did last night because we had none of the above, some sliced up sausages. I haven’t talked about my obsession with Korean/Ukrainian food in a while, but it’s still good and strong and if you want to go Korean fusion with this recipe, you could skip the dill and mix in some hot sauce and top everything with kimchi.

Start with two cups of leftover rice, or put some fresh on the stove and get that going while you chop and stir-fry.

Meanwhile, chop up half an onion and about 6 ounces of mushrooms (I used shitake, but any will do). Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until they soften, then add the mushrooms and a good sprinkling of kosher salt and let them cook down over medium heat…about 10 minutes.

cabbage in the skilletAs that’s happening, prepare your cabbage (one large, or in my case, one and a half small). Cut half-inch or wider strips–you want to create the illusion of what you would have if you had a whole cabbage roll in front of you and you were slicing bits off, and for that, I got the half-inch thickness. Plus, any thinner and this might be too close to moo shoo vegetables minus the hoisin sauce and pancakes!

Once the mushrooms are cooked down, add in the cabbage. It will look like a lot, but this cooks down. Stir occasionally.

And while that’s happening, chop up some fresh dill and mix in with your rice. When the cabbage is nice and soft, add in the rice, mix well, and serve with your favorite topping. And maybe some creamed beets too.

rice and dill

And we’re done!

salmon and trout salads

Guess who’s finally made all 101 salads on this list???! It was almost done last Thursday, but I had to travel home for Ukrainian Christmas and decided to hold off on two last salads, which I figured would make a light dinner when we returned. Here I am last night with #55 and #64…all proud to finally finish.


And here is my cousin Olivia with her boyfriend Mark, who got to taste #5 and #14 with us. I had them feign excitement and they did it well (they’re models/actors in LA, after all!). These salads were both just mediocre, in my 101 salad making opinion. Thankfully I made them Chicken Curry with Apples, which made up for the salads. Side note: Olivia made her acting debut here and she’s only getting started!

olivia and mark

Now, finally, my last list with comments. Very soon I’ll post a few things I learned while doing this challenge…things like the absolute importance of having sherry vinegar in your pantry. More on that shortly. Continue reading

Rosemary Oyster Mushrooms

Is it time for a Meatless Monday post? Oh, yes it is! It’s been a while.. This one is one of my favorites: grilled oyster mushrooms on a bed of arugula, with some fresh bread and soft cheese on the side, if you’d like. The oyster mushrooms are so meaty and rich that even Texan Adam was like “these are too much” when I made them a few weeks back. Oyster mushrooms aren’t the cheapest, but they still cost much less than a good piece of meat, right? Continue reading

Weekend fun & Vegan Holubtsi

Thanks to our Pysanka Party dinner this weekend, there was p-len-ty of cooking going on Friday night and all day Saturday. I planned to keep things simple, but of course I went a little overboard. The upsides: the guests enjoyed everything, and Otto got some pretty nice leftovers on Sunday. Here he is after his first creamed beets experience. He’s definitely my son because he ate every bit. He also got tastes of schnitzly, holubtsi, and varenyky. He must have a wooden leg because I don’t know he puts this bowls full of food. Speaking of bowls full, last night Adam was watching Colbert or something while snacking on a big bowl of creamed beets like it was ice cream or something. My no-beets eater has come a long way in five years!

It’s Meatless Monday and we had some leftover holubtsi for lunch today. I made a vegan version of these, and wanted to share how I did it. Instead of the pork and onions in that recipe, I sautéed three chopped portobello mushroom caps and one large  chopped onion in some grapeseed oil. After a few minutes, I turned down the heat a bit and let them cook down for about 20 minutes. I then whizzed them in the food processor until finely chopped (almost pureed, now that I think of it.). I mixed that with the rice (brown basmati, which adds a nice layer of flavor) and assembled a dozen holubtsi. Full disclosure, I did use chicken stock for the baking part, but you could use vegetable stock instead.

One other highlight from the weekend: I finally made paska/babka! It was quite the task, but well worth it. I’m excited to share and I’ll post tomorrow!

All Real, Picky Eater Fooling Vegetarian Meatballs

Last year, I finally made these vegetarian burgers and there was no looking back. They taste fantastic, every ingredient is recognizable and I can pronounce it (unlike the jibberish on those packages of soy-based ground ‘beef’), and I’ve found the mixture freezes well and makes a meatball that tricked a picky 6-year-old I know. One time while in my care last spring, I actually fed them to her as an experiment to see if she would notice. She didn’t. And I smiled to myself smugly.

The context was likely what made these seem like the real deal. I made sure there was lots of tomato sauce and cheese to cover the meatballs and the spaghetti. Context is everything, right? I used to eat these tofu hot dogs from street vendors in Toronto, and they really didn’t taste much different when they were smothered in about 7 toppings (Toronto hot dog vendors all easily have about 20 to choose from, including this corn relish I could never bring myself to taste.) Then again, texture can blow your cover, no matter how good the context. Those tofu dogs weren’t entirely convincing because they were sort of putty-ish. Maybe there’s a better description out there…I don’t know. Anyway, vegetarian meatballs from the store tend to have this spongey kind of texture, right? I can’t remember because it’s been a while. Thankfully these meatballs have a nice texture that’s slightly varied, thanks to the ground mixture of grains, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.

Here’s what I do: Continue reading

A Family Casserole, Reinvented

To this day, one of my favorite brunch dishes is broccoli, egg, and cheese casserole. Growing up, it was an after-church mainstay. Bound together by gobs of cream of mushroom soup, this casserole may well be my original comfort food. And I know certain siblings of mine feel the same way. Valya once wrote about it for an English class assignment so mouthwateringly well that the teacher asked for the recipe. (I’m guessing my mother found it on a soup can label: combine cooked broccoli, boiled eggs cut in half, a can or two of soup, and sprinkle with cheddar and bake until bubbly.)

Fast forward to sometime last year when I was on a bit of a hard boiled eggs in soup kick. I got to thinking how good a broccoli and creamy mushroom soup would be with eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches for dipping. I finally made it a few weeks ago after getting dumped on by a deluge of rain. It was the perfect antidote. Where a casserole was nice for a sunny Sunday meal, this would become my dark rainy night version.

As easy as it could have been to combine some sort of broccoli soup with a few cans of mushroom soup, I gave myself the added challenge of creating a homemade version of Cambell’s goodness….something with more mushrooms and organic milk. Turns out I didn’t have to work too hard; this recipe (thanks Amy!) worked like a charm, although for my purposes I split the recipe in half and used more mushrooms so the flavor would really come through when blended with the broccoli. (If you have a family recipe that involves cream of mushroom soup–and let’s admit it, everybody does–this should work for that too.)

On another note, how ridiculously good does that sandwich look?! I have to toot my horn here, I’m afraid. It was that good. I finally made Jim Lahey’s bread and don’t think I can use anything else for my sandwiches. Continue reading

Thirty-minute perogies

The other night while leafing through Melissa Clark’s new cookbook In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (also the only thing on my Christmas wish list for Adam), I came upon a variation for Turkish Manti, a.k.a. the best lamb dumpling dish I’ve ever tasted. What makes this recipe different is that Melissa modified it to be a weeknight-friendly dinner by deconstructing all the components–the spiced lamb, the yogurt sauce, the brown butter, something resembling the dumpling dough–and serving it up more like a pasta dish. Her secret weapon: farfalle…the bow tie shape has that pinch in the center that is a bit dumpling-like.

That got me thinking….could I do the same with perogy fillings? I had to try, and used Teresa’s Mushroom and Sauerkraut variety as inspiration. While I heated a pot of water to boil, I sliced up the mushrooms and cabbage. Once the pasta went in, I made the “filling”. I also fried up onions separately, just as I would for perogies. The result: a delight and a very close second to the real thing–in about 30 minutes! And even though I can buy perogies at the grocery store, they’re typically quite heavy and don’t have the bigger slices of mushrooms that I enjoy.

This is my Meatless Monday version, but you could definitely add bacon or a beef filling on another day. Next I want to try this idea with a potato puree and farmer’s cheese. One thing to remember is to go easy on the pasta. The filling should be most prominent. And even though it seems a bit strange to put sour cream on pasta, make sure you do. It’s what brings it all together and fools you into thinking you’re eating something that took hours more to prepare. Enjoy! Continue reading

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