Sunday, 4 March 2012
"Panini di Funghi al Pesto e Mozzarella" (Mushroom "Panini" With a Fantastic Mozzarella and Pesto Filling )
I so WANT Spring to be here! I need the warmth, the comfort, the colours and scent of renewal. I want to shake the weight of a long, dark Winter off my mind and my body... I look for "signs" everywhere around me.
This time last year, we were in Italy. I had almost forgotten about the scent of the freesias and the cherry and almond blossom and the sense of happy, new beginnings, under a blue sky. But it suddenly all came back to me...
I felt a bit homesick, today... it was raining over my daffodils and my first camellia flowers were already being bruised by the rain. I felt sad and needed to "create" something really, really fragrant, full of flavour and colour... something beautiful and NEW which would remind me of HOME!
So... I created a delicious new dish you won't find anywhere else, because it's all mine!
Here it is:
"Panini" di Funghi al Pesto e Mozzarella
Mushroom "Panini" With a Mozzarella and Pesto Filling
4 large Portobello mushrooms
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp grated Parmesan
2 leaves fresh basil
some flour and extra bredacrumbs for coating
some olive oil
(for the baking tin)
For the green pesto:
A handful fresh basil
or a mixture of basil and rucola (rocket)
1 small clove garlic
1 slice fresh red chilli pepper
2 tbsp pine kernels
or any other nut
(I used mixed nuts)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Before I started, I made my pesto, by simply placing all the ingredients in a small food mixer and blitzing it all together. I also made red pesto, to be used as garnish (see below.)
I then removed the stalks out of the mushroom, which I chopped and placed in small dish, with 1 small egg ( I only used half of the egg white, in case my stuffing was too runny!) 4 tbsp breadcrumbs, a couple of torn basil leaves, some salt and black pepper. I mixed these ingredients to make a lovely stuffing, which I then divided into two equal portions and placed in the middle of two of my four mushrooms.
Next, I placed a small portion of my green pesto, some rucola (rocket) leaves and a slice of mozzarella into the other two mushrooms. Now, I was ready to sandwich the four halves together, to make two "panini!"
My "panini" looked so gorgeous, big, fat, filled with the scent of spring and full of promise! The next thing I did, was to carefully coat my "panini" with flour, then "dipped" in whisked egg (I used egg #2, for this) and finally, coated in a generous dusting of lovely breadcrumbs.
Though I had previously intended to fry my mushroom, I then decided that there was no need for the extra unhealthy calories, so, I judst poured a tiny bit of olive oil on the base of a baking dish and cooked my "panini" in a hot oven (190 C, 375F, Gas 5)
As my mushrooms cooked, I could smell the aroma of my lovely homemade pesto (you can use the bought kind, if you want to simplify the recipe!) and the rucola, the basil, and I could feel the heat coming from the oven!
Twenty minutes later.... my "panini" were ready! The cheese and the pesto had combined their flavour... melted mozzarella was oozing out of the mushrooms... the breadcrumbs had turned a wonderful golden colour and I couldn't help but have a taste of the savoury delight I had created. It tasted so good, a word is yet to be invented to describe my new dish.
PS: I also made red pesto, as I wanted to use it as garnish, using four sun dried tomatoes and a small handful of rucola (rocket leaves) instead of the mixture of basil and rucola I used to make my green pesto. I used a tiny amount of red pesto as garnish for my "panini" and the rest I had with fresh homemade cavatelli (yes, I made them!)