La Deliziosa Vita, Recipes

Meaty vegetarian dishes for your Thanksgiving

The magic’s in the mushrooms
Photo: susan dyer reynolds

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday — it’s all about cooking, relaxing and eating — but when I was a vegetarian I dreaded it. Every time I went to dinner at someone’s house, they either presented me with Tofurky (a horrible tofu “roast” meant to substitute for turkey), or I had to fend for myself with the mashed potatoes and vegetable sides. So I started offering to bring dishes more satisfying for vegetarians, and I always found it interesting that the carnivores often hovered around them. The key ingredient is mushrooms, which make a great meaty alternative. The two biggest hits were always my creamy wild mushroom soup and my mother’s portobello Parmesan. The mushroom soup recipe includes a homemade stock that is a lot easier than you might think and makes a huge difference. The recipe also calls for the mushrooms I like to use, but feel free to substitute any mushrooms you want. It calls for fresh herbs, too, but you can also use dried, just cut the measurement by a third. (Leftover tip: Use some of the soup to make mushroom stroganoff — just add sour cream and serve over egg noodles.)


Serves 6

⅔ cup fresh cremini (baby portobello)
⅔ cup fresh oyster mushrooms
⅔ cup fresh king trumpet mushrooms
⅔ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup Spanish (yellow) onions, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
5 cups water
1 large leek, chopped
¼ cup flour (I like Wondra “quick mixing”)
1 cup dry sherry
1 sprig fresh thyme, minced
1 sprig fresh oregano, minced
1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1½ cups fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley,

Clean the mushrooms by putting them in a bowl of warm water and swishing them around until the excess dirt comes loose. Dry by rolling in a dishtowel. (Note: Contrary to popular belief, the amount of water mushrooms hold when washed is negligible. If you’re partial to the myth, feel free to gently brush them off dry.) Separate the stems and coarsely chop. Cut caps into bite-sized pieces
and set aside.

For the stock: Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add the chopped mushroom stems, onion, carrot, cracked black pepper, and half a tablespoon of kosher salt. Sauté over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add the water, reduce the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer and reserve liquid.

For the soup: In another large pot or Dutch oven, heat remaining butter and add leeks. Cook over low heat until leeks begin to caramelize (20 to 30 minutes). Add the mushroom caps and sauté until brown and tender. Add the flour and cook long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste (about a minute). Add the sherry and sauté another minute, stirring constantly. Add the mushroom stock, herbs (except for the parsley), white pepper, remaining salt, cream, and milk and heat through (but don’t boil). For extra smooth and silky soup, use a stick blender, leaving some mushroom bits for texture if desired. Stir in parsley and serve.


Serves 4-6

¼ cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon water
½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
4 to 6 large portobello mushrooms,
brushed clean, stems and gills removed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup canned San Marzano tomato
sauce (or homemade marinara)
½ cup fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
¼ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley,

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. In a pie tin or shallow bowl, mix eggs and water to create an egg wash. Pour breadcrumbs into a second pie tin or bowl. Dip each mushroom in egg wash, then breadcrumbs and set on a platter. When oil is hot (the surface should be “shimmering”) add the mushrooms to form a single layer with a bit of space between each. Fry until brown on both sides and tender (about five minutes per side). Drain on paper-towel-lined plate.

Spread half the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Place the mushrooms in a single layer and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the cheeses and top with butter bits. Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

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