Thursday, April 2, 2015

Grilled mushroom and beet sandwich

Cooking dinner with a pal is one of my most favorite ways to spend an evening -- sharing stories and gossip and silly jokes with the conversation seemingly always heading toward dinner-inappropriate topics, and dinner time getting pushed back later and later because of all the gabbing (hence the discrepancy in the amount of natural light in the above two pictures, haha!). I was so glad that Talia wanted to brighten my Wednesday and cook with me, contributing some pretty beets and peeling a million carrots and chopping mushrooms and eating her sandwich open-faced so I could show you guys what it looks like on the inside while cooking at the bottom of the post! Talia and I like to cook together when we hang out, and she eats a mostly vegan diet ("mostly" here meaning, with the exception of cakes and sweets ;)) so I always have a good time making and thinking through predominantly animal product free recipes.

This meal was inspired by Wednesday being CSA day and also by beet neglect. Talia said that the beets she had would be best roasted because they'd started to go a little soft, as beets and carrots tend to do, so I ditched a plan I'd initially had for a raw salad (soon!) and decided to make a sandwich. It's like a grilled cheese but with no cheese (although a goat cheese would go really well here!). But the mushrooms are fairly rich and between that and grilling the sandwich we didn't miss the cheese at all, and the whole thing held together really nicely. 

This sautéed mushroom recipe is one of those recipes I have that I follow to a T every time, and every time it comes out perfect. I made it on a whim as a solution to my own mushroom neglect a few years ago out of Mark Bittman's great cookbook How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and have made it innumerable times since then. I'll often double it because cremini mushrooms are cheap through my CSA and eat leftovers on toast, so I thought it would make a great sandwich filling. I had an inkling that the beets would go well texturally and round out a sandwich with a sweet component but I wasn't expecting the end result to be so tasty! Meat eaters among you are no doubt rolling your eyes but it's salty, savory, sweet and crunchy all at once, which are hallmarks of an excellent sandwich for me. The salad is a simple one of raw carrots much like last week, with dressing recipe below. You could easily make this vegan by replacing the butter in the mushroom recipe with more oil (so 1/4 C olive oil total).

Roasted beets:

Any amount of beets, probably one medium sized beet gives you enough slices for two sandwiches
Splash of vegetable oil or cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub or spray a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap all the way around your beet(s) to create a packet with oil. Wrap up the beet completely in the foil, or bundle several beets together. Roast on a cookie sheet (the beets might lose a bit of liquid and bubble over so you'll want that sheet underneath them) until you can easily pierce the beet with a fork, this took us about 50 minutes. We jumped ahead here and started the mushrooms and salad prep. When the beets are cooked to your liking, carefully place them in a strainer and immediately run under very cold water, or you can shock them in an ice bath. Slice tops and bottoms off the beets and do your best to peel off the skin once they're cool enough to handle (the water should help cool them and loosen the skin). Slice into about half inch thin disks, or quarter moons if the beet(s) are very large. Set slices aside. 

Sautéed mushrooms, adapted only slightly from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman:

1 lb cremini mushrooms, or any mix of mushrooms
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste 
A few cracks of fresh ground black pepper or about 1/4 tsp
1/4 cup white wine (can be omitted or replaced with red wine)
3 garlic cloves
Handful of Italian parsley leaves, from about a quarter of a bunch 

Wipe mushrooms with a barely damp paper towel, gently removing dirt clumps and brushing away any other debris. Separate caps and stems when possible. Slice mushrooms into longest possible thin slices and chop stems finely. Heat oil and butter in a pan large enough to hold all your mushrooms on medium heat. (Keep in mind it'll be easiest to use this pan to grill the sandwiches later). When the butter is just melted add mushrooms and salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add garlic and wine and cook stirring more frequently for another 5 minutes or until no liquid is left in the pan. Throw in parley, stir off of the heat and empty mushrooms into a heat proof bowl and set aside (but keep the pan on the stove to finish the sandwiches). 

Assembling sandwiches:

Bread slices 
A little bit of butter
Your favorite mustard, we used creamy Dijon 

Stack the bread slices the way that the sandwich will be put together and butter the outsides of both slices (this might not be necessary if there's still a lot of oil and butter left in your mushroom pan and the pan is nonstick). Turn the slices out onto a plate or cutting board so that you're looking at what will be the inside of the sandwich and scoop some sautéed mushrooms on. We used 2 tbsp per sandwich, approximately. Then top with as many slices of beets as you'd like / will fit on the sandwich. Spread a generous amount of mustard on the empty slice of bread. Put the sandwich together and heat the same pan you used for mushroom sautéing on medium high heat. Carefully place the sandwich and cook for about five minutes or until crispy and golden brown, then flip with a spatula and do the other side. We had enough mushrooms to make two heaping sandwiches with leftovers to make one more!

We served this with another carrot ribbon salad like last week's, made from two large carrots, and a dressing of: 

The juice of one lemon 
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp creamy Dijon mustard
Small handful of Italian parsley 

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