Let me start by saying I would never order this on a menu or make it for myself…ever. I don’t like mushrooms when they are heavily featured, whether cremini, button, hen of the woods, or shitake. Mushrooms taste like dirt to me. When mushrooms taste good, they are fried, or covered in cheese, or paired with beef and gravy. Likewise with eggplant. At GT Fish & Oyster a few months back, a waiter was convinced that they had an eggplant dish that even an eggplant hater could learn to love…and he was wrong. The eggplant was covered in a delicious plum hoisin sauce, but when it came to the eggplant, it tasted like it always does, an eggy sponge.
So with all that being said, I made this dish for the lactose intolerant pescatarian love of my life and this is what she had to say about the ratatouille stuffed mushrooms. Hearty without being heavy, a great substitution for the non-meat eaters. They were really good, so much so that the six stuffed mushrooms lasted mere minutes on the plate. In regards to the preparation of the dish, try to keep your cuts very even for everything that goes into the ratatouille so that it has a great balance from bite to bite, it also looks great when stuffed in the mushrooms. Use a grater on the tomato to get the inside of the tomato without the skin, a much easier technique than quickly boiling tomatoes, plunging them in an ice bath, and peeling the skins. And, without having actually tasted my creation, I imagine that the balsamic vinegar brought out the inherent sweetness of the vegetables and added a little tartness that made the dish a bit more lively.
- 6-8 medium sized baby bella mushrooms, stems reserved and gills scooped out
- 1/2 Spanish onion, finely diced
- 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 medium zucchini, finely diced
- 1/2 medium eggplant, peeled and finely diced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- reserved mushroom stems, diced
- 1 medium heirloom tomato, grated
- balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- 4 leaves basil, julienned
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375. Season inside of mushrooms with salt and pepper. Roast mushrooms for 10-15 minutes, until caps begin to hold liquid sweated out from mushrooms.
In a medium saute pan, heat 1/4 cup oil on medium low heat. Add onions and peppers and sweat until just beginning to color, add zucchini, eggplant, and reserved mushroom stems, continue cooking on low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add thyme and garlic, toss together for 1-2 minutes. Add grated tomato and juices and raise heat to medium, reduce until their is almost no more liquid in the pan. Remove from heat and fill each mushroom cap to the brim with the ratatouille. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over each stuffed mushroom, put in oven for 10 minutes. Garnish with basil and serve.