Posts tagged ‘Mushrooms’

April 29, 2011

Grilled Cheese Sandwich – Kicked Up A Notch!

Allright, I admit… not much green happening here. BUT, to my defense, there’s got to be at least a million mushrooms in that sandwich! AND I did eat a whole yellow tomato as a side dish. So I think this qualifies as being healthy!

You see, I was really in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich but I needed to find a way to make it somewhat healthy. Not that whole grain bread and cheese alone is entirely bad for you, but let’s just say it lacks a little bit in the nutrients department! So I decided I would add some veggies. My fridge being almost empty, I didn’t have that much to choose from: Mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli. Let’s just say mushrooms became the obvious choice.

I was going to also add the tomatoes, but I thought that my sandwich was still lacking something very important: protein! Then it hit me. Why not make a very thin egg white omelet, then put my mushrooms and cheese in the middle, fold the edges of my omelet to make it into a  neat little pocket, put that pocket between two slices of bread and then grill the resulting sandwich to melt the cheese! BRILLIANT! Suddenly, poor missis tomato didn’t seem like she belonged anymore, so I had her as a side dish instead.

Man, that sandwich was good! I think this one will become a classic lunch for week-end days… with endless variations on the subject, of course!

The ingredients that went into that one go as follows:

  • 2 slices 12 grain bread
  • About ½ tbsp butter
  • 50g low fat mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 125g sliced button mushrooms
  • ½ egg whites
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Brown the mushrooms in a skillet over medium-high heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the egg whites into a very thin omelet in a large non-stick pan (mine is 30cm) Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  3. When omelet is cooked, pile the mushrooms in the center. Add grated cheese.
  4. Fold the edges over the mushrooms and cheese to form a square pocket, about the same size as your slices of bread.
  5. Spread a very thin layer of butter on each slice of bread. Put one slice buttered slice down in your non-stick pan and carefully place your omelette on top of it. Cover with the second slice of bread.
  6. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until bread is nice and brown, then flip and cook for an extra 2-3 minutes.
  7. Cut in half and watch cheese ooze! (be careful not to overdo that last step… you want to enjoy your sandwich while it’s still hot!)

April 13, 2011

Super Quick Rapini and Red Bell Pepper Fusilli

I know, this is not what I had originally planned for yesterday. But this is what I truly felt like eating. However, since my son was home and he still refuses to eat any pasta that is not white (he even buys his own!), I figured I would save this for a night when I would be alone and make something that he would, if not enjoy, at least want to eat.

I was getting ready to start with my initial plan when I thought maybe I should check with him first, you know, just in case. I didn’t want to make food for 2 and end up eating alone.

So I ask: *
– Felix, are you going to eat?

Mmmm, not sure… What’s on the menu?

Me, proudly exhibiting recipe

Him, reading out loud
Korean Corn Crêpes…

Him, looking at the picture then deciding
Well, actually, Mom, I’m not that hungry. I’ve been munching on stuff all day, you know…

In other words: Nope, this doesn’t inspire me at all. I’ll have a bowl of cereal or something later, when you’re not looking.

Him, grinning
Sounds something like that, yeah…

– And I suppose a pasta dish wouldn’t sound more appealing to you?

– With hay pasta? Erm… no thanks. But it doesn’t matter, really. I’ll be fine. Go ahead and make what you want for yourself.

*(of course, this entire conversation was held in French, but I kindly translated to ease understanding…)

Soooooo, change of plan! Pasta it was going to be after all!

I had a vision in my mind for this beautiful, colourful pasta dish, loaded with rapini (did I ever tell you it was one of my favourite veggies?) and red bell peppers, with a few crumbles of feta cheese.

The rest of the dish came together as I was making it. In the fridge, I had a few mushrooms that had seen better days and needed to be eaten fast, else they’d end up in the garbage. I hate wasting food, so in they went.

Oh, and I had this beautiful block of tofu to make my tofu balls later this week. Surely I didn’t need it all. Quick verification in my recipe book… yay! Only 300g are needed and I had 450g. Go for tofu. Now for pasta… what to use?

I really wanted penne but all my cupboard had to offer was fusilli. Fine. Fusilli will do.

This dish was super easy to put together. Really, it takes no longer than it does to cook pasta. And to be honest, I totally forgot to add seasoning, save for salt and pepper, but I didn’t miss it one bit. Feel free to add a few herbs, though, if you want. And this makes a huge serving. If you upped the pasta, tofu and feta cheese a bit, this could easily serve two.

(Serves 1-2) *use the greater quantity for pasta, tofu and cheese if making for 2

  • 85g – 150g whole grain pasta
  • 1 small onion
  • 100g button mushrooms, quartered
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ bunch rapini, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 50g – 100g extra firm tofu, diced
  • 25g – 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • Olive oil and lemon juice


  • Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  • While that is happening, brown mushrooms in a skillet over medium high heat. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  • When mushrooms are nice and golden, add onions and cook until they start to colour, about 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
  • When your pasta is almost done, before you drain it, take advantage of the steam coming out of the pot to give your rapini a quick steam bath, about 30 seconds.
  • Add bell pepper, tofu and rapini to mushrooms and onion mixture. Give this a quick stir and toss pasta in. Stir to combine.
  • Transfer to serving plate. Sprinkle feta cheese crumbles on top and hit with a quick squeeze of lemon juice and super timid drizzle of olive oil.

April 1, 2011

Creamy Mushroom Hazelnut Barley Risotto

On observing Lent

Halfway through… wow this can get really tough at times! Like unbelievably hard. The hardest part for me is sweets. I realize that I have an incredibly sweet tooth. I am soooo addicted to sugar. Unreal. It’s really tough to be without it for so long. But it’s also good. It feels good to know that I can do this. I have the willpower and I will do this.

Over the last days, I have made a few interesting observations.

1 – Lent has a total duration of 46 days. That is 6½ weeks, which represent a little over 12.6% of the year. Holy cow that’s A LOT!

2 – I must be a little crazy for CHOOSING to, while having no religious motivations whatsoever, observe a practice that is being forced onto so many people that don’t really want to do it in the first place and, even worse, not allowing myself to cheat for the whole duration of Lent, because that would equal cheating myself.

3 – It takes an awful lot of willpower to get through such a long period of time of denying yourself of so many things you like so much (especially SUGAR!!!)

4 – Observing Lent is really forcing me to change the way I eat, to get more creative with my menus and to try a variety of new things, which often leads to beautiful discoveries. Best of all is it seems that many of those changes tend to stick after Lent is over! For instance, I eat a lot less meat since last year. And I do mean A LOT.

Another aspect that I really appreciate about observing Lent is that it is giving me an excuse; an excuse not to eat that piece of meat, an excuse not to eat sweets or not to have that drink. An excuse to stay focused and eat 100% clean for a little (well, not THAT little) while.

I’m not saying that I would do that 100% of the time, but it’s good to have that period of time during which you force yourself to do it. When I go to restaurants, for instance, it forces me to look at different items on the menu, because so many things are just not an option.

Also, I find that in general, most people don’t seem to understand why one individual would choose to keep junk or processed food out of their diet. They think that if you refuse to eat crap, it must be because you want to lose weight; else you’re just some sort of a freak. To most people, enjoyable food has to be crappy food. It feels that, in their mind, they just cannot believe that one can actually ENJOY eating truly healthy wholesome food, like this superb barley risotto, for instance. To most, risotto should be made with white rice, loads of cream, butter and cheese. Well, let me just say that, to me, this healthy version was pure heaven. And I am not certain that I would’ve ever had that inspiration had it not been for Lent.

I think this year’s most noticeable “consequence” of Lent will be the addition of (kids, stop reading now…) tofu to my regular diet. I’m really sarting to love this stuff!

Creamy Mushroom Hazelnut Barley Risotto

(serves 6)

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 227g button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups barley
  • ½ cup wild rice
  • 2 tsp salted herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 – 10 cups water
  • 225g extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 227g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 40g oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g (3-4) portebellini mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g asparagus, cut in 1-2 inch pieces
  • 30g roasted hazelnuts, crushed


  • In a skillet over medium heat, brown the onions. Add chopped mushrooms, barley, salt and pepper and cook to develop fragrance, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add wild rice and salted herbs, give another quick stir and add about 2 cups of water.
  • Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until almost all water has been absorbed. For the next 45 minutes to an hour, you will have to repeat this process many times, adding about a cup of water at a time, simmer / stir until water is almost completely absorbed then add more water, until barley has reached the desired level of doneness / creaminess.
  • When your risotto is almost where you want it, start browning the mushrooms in a separate skillet. You will have to brown them in several batches to avoid boiling them, as opposed to browning. Mushrooms should be laid in a single layer and should not touch.
  • Add cooked mushrooms, asparagus, tofu cubes and hazelnuts to risotto. Give everything a quick stir, turn off the heat and allow flavours to mingle for a few minutes before serving.