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Abrazos! xox Penny

Monday, February 7, 2011

Unplugged for Dinner

Well, the Steelers lost but it was a great game and the commercials were a hoot, most of them anyway.

Now, it's a new week, Meatless Monday, the first Monday in National Heart Month and here is a challenge for all of us to do. Unplugged yourself before sitting down to eat your meals. If you can't eat all your meals this way, at least shoot for an "Unplugged Dinner". I would have been hypocritical for saying this before the Super Bowl. I had the TV on, my computer on and my cell phone in hand as well as my Terrible Towel twirling in the air. I was busy!

I grew up in the age of TV dinners. I had my own portable TV dinner table and several nights a week, an actual Swanson's TV Dinner...dripping in fat and sugar. My favorite was the fried chicken one similar to the one pictured although I preferred the one with the cherry cobbler. The cobbler oozed everywhere...into the chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, and made it a sugary feast...for dinner. If you have read "About me" on this blog, you will also see that I was "overweight and underhappy" during my teens. I weighed about 20 pounds more than I do now. Think there was any cause and effect going on there?

Tonight, I am having something delicious, heart-healthy...hey...before I go on, how many of you are interested in the heart-healthy aspect of a plant-based diet? I wanted to invite you all to my next cooking class at The Culinary District in Hot Springs, AR but they called on Saturday and it is sold out. If you live near Hot Springs, let them know you'd like to come and they will schedule another one. Or, let me know if you want me to do a class for you and your pals...I would love to share all I know!

Back to my dinner...take a look. It is luscious...a delightful combination of "chew" from the nutrient-dense mushrooms and cashews, healthy fats, great plant protein and lovely elegance from the herbs. A friend asked me to plan a vegetarian dinner party for her. You can bet this will be one of the dishes! Just add good company and candlelight...

Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil + extra for brushing
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 cup raw, whole cashews
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice (or grain of choice)
1 can lentils or black beans, drained and rinsed (I used black beans)
¼ cup breadcrumbs or whole grain crackers crumbs
½ cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves + extra for garnish
6 Portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, if desired
1 tomato, sliced in thin rounds (if you can find a nice tomato this time of year!!)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large skillet, sauté the onions and cashews with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium/high heat. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until onions are soft and lightly browned and cashews are browned, too. Add garlic and let cook a few more minutes.

In a large bowl combine onion mixture, brown rice, lentils or black beans, breadcrumbs, vegetable broth, basil, and thyme. Mix together and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brush both sides of mushrooms caps lightly with olive oil and place top-side-down on an oiled sheet pan. Stuff mushrooms with about ½ cup lentil cashew stuffing then press one tomato slice on top of the stuffing.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the stuffing is browned and the mushroom begins releasing juices. Garnish with extra fresh thyme leaves and serve!

Do-ahead Tip: The stuffing can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. The mushrooms can be stuffed and assembled on a baking tray the day before. Bake and garnish with fresh thyme right before serving.

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