After a few days of contemplating just how we would enjoy some very special eggs, I was ready to experiment and create a new recipe. Along with the fresh herbs now in the garden, everything was in place. As you can see, it took a few attempts to get the Stuffed Mushroom Caps Topped with an Egg to eventually look as good as they tasted. Fortunately, Paul usually displays an easy willingness to eat my experiments gone awry.
The very succulent shallot, crimini mushroom and fresh herb filling made the stuffed mushroom caps into one delicious bite. Perfect for a quick appetizer or side vegetable. With nary a crumb of bread nor a grate of cheese, the stuffed mushroom caps are both dairy and gluten-free. Without an egg, they are vegan as well.
But when you bake the stuffed mushroom caps with an egg and serve them on a “nest” of freshly sautéed spinach, the whole becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Richly flavored, gloriously textured and all the colors of beautiful. Great for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“A Very Rich Egg.”
As you know, I live in Montana. Throughout the state it’s common (and legal) for people to raise their own chickens for eggs. These are eggs with golden-orange yolks and sturdy whites that taste and smell like eggs.
On Wednesday last week, one of my favorite yoga teachers, Teri, brought me a gift. Wrapped in paper towels inside a large yogurt container were a pale green and a light brown chicken egg. Underneath those two were half a dozen of these small deeply green beauties.
Much more unusual, even in Montana, Teri’s son-in-law has been incubating some of their pheasant eggs this year. Pheasants lay lots of eggs. Most of the eggs with their rich yolks became food for Teri and her family’s breakfasts. Six of those eggs became my family’s breakfast.
Pheasant eggs weigh-in at about an ounce, half the size of chicken eggs. They also have comparatively larger yolks with a much richer flavor. And they have very, very strong shells with lovely blue lining. I quickly learned that opening the shells requires care, finesse and practice to keep from breaking the yolks in the process.
An alternative to pheasant eggs are “pullet eggs.” These small eggs come from chickens just learning the art of egg laying. Look for them at your local farmers’ markets from late summer through early fall.
Botanically there’s no difference between white button, portabello, crimini and baby bella mushrooms. I had no idea despite all the marketing to the contrary.
- “Baby bellas” is just another name for criminis.
- White button mushrooms are immature criminis.
- Large portabellos with dark centers and exposed gills are the most mature of all.
- Those actually labeled as criminis fall in-between the other two in size.
- As the mushrooms mature, they become more intensely flavored.
Nutritionally, criminis rival the more exotic Asian mushrooms in benefits to both our immune and cardiovascular systems. And sometimes criminis even contain significant amounts of vitamin B12.
After another hour of experimentation Monday night, I surrendered. Baking portobello mushrooms and regular large eggs turned into a most unsatisfactory dinner. Although the portobellos were precooked, they were tough. And the length of time required to cook the large eggs left them with a tough yolk cap. Without tiny eggs, stuffed cremini mushroom caps are the way to go.
Dairy-free and gluten-free baked stuffed crimini mushroom caps by themselves are fabulous. Pheasant eggs and pullet eggs, though they weigh half as much as chicken eggs, require the largest sized crimini mushrooms you can find in order to hold the whole egg. Fortunately it’s not a problem if a bit of the white spills out. Lift it up with a spatula and serve it as in this photo. To serve the Stuffed Mushroom Caps alone, follow the recipe through to stuffing the caps in step five. Just before serving, bake the stuffed caps
in a 350 degree oven until hot, about 5 minutes.
Makes 6 individual crimini mushrooms, 2-3 servings Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
6 small pheasant or “pullet eggs,” or not
6 2-2½ -inch or larger crimini mushrooms with long stems
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 ½ teaspoons coconut oil (or olive oil or butter)
1 tablespoon finely sliced fresh herbs (i.e. chives, thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley)
Pinch sea salt
2 twists freshly ground pepper
5 ounces fresh, baby spinach leaves
Pinch sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Remove the eggs from the refrigerator, if using them. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a small rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
- Rinse, dry and carefully pull out the stem from each mushroom. Place the mushroom caps on the parchment-lined baking pan open side up. Spray with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Finely dice the mushroom stems.
- Heat a small sauté pan over medium high heat with the 1½ teaspoons of oil. Stir in the minced shallot, finely diced mushroom stems and finely chopped fresh herbs. Lightly season with a pinch of sea salt and a couple of twists of freshly ground pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes until the shallots are tender. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Divide the mushroom mixture between the mushroom caps. Press the mixture down to provide a better bed for the egg.
- Gently open each egg. Place the yolk with as much of its white as it can hold on top of each mushroom cap. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Without an egg, bake just until hot.
- While the stuffed mushrooms are baking, sauté the spinach, seasoned with salt and pepper, in the residual oil left from cooking the mushroom mixture. Divide the cooked spinach between two or three plates, forming a “nest” on each plate.
- Serve the Stuffed Mushroom Caps Topped with an Egg on the spinach.