Mentioned in the Babble Blog – Family Kitchen!
In the Mediterranean diet it is typical to begin the food with tantalizing starters to initiate the appetite. These appetizers are called Tapas or “Spain’s Little Meals”. Being Finger Licking finger foods, Tapas is meant to encourage conversation. People have the option to focus their attention on socializing rather than keeping themselves busy with managing a full course meal.
Tapa means “lid” or “Cover” in Spanish; here are some stories to the origin of the Tapas:
“According to legend, the tapa tradition began when Castile’s king, Alfonso X of Castiletapas. The word became a kind of loophole in the law to allow drinkers to imbibe alcohol. or Alfonso the Wise, recovered from an illness by drinking wine mixed with small dishes between meals. After regaining his health, the king ordered that taverns were not allowed to serve wine to customers unless the beverage was accompanied by a small snack or tapas. The word became a kind of loophole in the law to allow drinkers to imbibe alcohol.
It is also commonly said that since one would be standing while eating a tapa in traditional Spanish bars, they would need to place their plates on top of their drinks in order to eat, making it a top.
Some believe that the name originated sometime around the 16th century when tavern owners from Castilla-La Mancha found out that the strong taste and smell of mature cheese could help disguise that of bad wine, thus “covering” it, and started offering free cheese when serving cheap wine. (Wiki)
“Another story claims that while on a long trip, King Alfonso had stopped to rest in the town of Ventorillo del Chato in the province of Cádiz, and he ordered a glass of jerez or sherry. There was a gusty wind, so the inn keeper served him his glass of sherry covered by a slice of ham to prevent the sherry from getting dirty. King Alfonso apparently liked it, and when he asked for a second glass, he requested another tapa or “cover” just like the first.” (Source)
There are an array of Tapas available… Patatas Bravas, Spanish Omelets, Gambas al Ajillo Recipe (Garlic Shrimp Tapa), Stuffed Mussels & Sauteed or Stuffed Mushrooms being a few popular ones. These plates are little but with big flavors, as the Spanish food incorporates influences & ingredients of different cultures & countries… With the invasions of the Romans, Africans & others the soil of Spain has absorbed the variety of food & spices… like almonds, saffron, tomatoes, potatoes & chili peppers.
Why Stuffed Mushrooms? I saw the Bharwan Khumbh here & I had this craving:-) I got around making my version of the stuffing soon after. I love the earthy texture of the mushrooms! Along with the vibrant tomatoes, peppers & garlic spiced with the exotic saffron, this Tapas is a delight. It is all vegan, as I have used Almonds here to garnish instead of the cheese. Not to mention that this is a health packed appetizer.
- 15 Button Mushrooms (pick bigger firmer ones)
- 1/4 Cup Packed Sun Dried Tomatoes in Oil, finely chopped
- 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon chopped Parsley
- 1/4 Cup Roasted Red Bell Peppers (Capsicum), finely chopped
- A Fistful of Lightly Toasted Almonds or Pine nuts
- 1 Tablespoon Butter + 1.5 Teaspoon Olive oil
- Salt & Black Pepper
- A Pinch of Saffron
- Rosemary, finely chopped (or Parsley or any other herb)
- Some Saved oil of the Sun Dried tomatoes
- A Squirt of Lemon (Optional)
- Crushed Red Pepper or hot smoked Paprika (Optional)
Note: If you are using dry sun dried tomatoes (not in oil), you will need to soak the tomatoes in about half cup of hot water to reconstitute them. Save a bit of the water in which they are soaked.
Wash the Mushrooms & dry them. Carefully scoop put the stem of the mushrooms to make a hollow inside the mushrooms ( I used a thin paring knife).Save the stems & the caps.
Combine 1 minced clove of Garlic with the butter or oil & heat the oil/butter in a pan. Add the mushrooms to the pan & saute them while tossing at high heat till the mushrooms start to brown & all the water dries up. Toss with the parsley; Set aside.
Chop the stems of the mushroom very fine. Chop the roasted bell peppers. Chop the sun dried tomatoes. Process the nuts till they are coarsely ground. Chop the rosemary.
Heat the 1.5 tsp of Olive Oil. Add 1 clove of minced garlic. Add the stems of the mushrooms; saute them till dry. Add salt & pepper. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, Saffron & nuts to the mushrooms & combine. Add a squirt of lemon & the crushed pepper, if you are using them. Gently combine everything together.
With a small spoon stuff the mushroom with filling.
Put the mushrooms in a baking pan & drizzle with the oil from the sun dried tomatoes. (if you are using the dry tomato, drizzle some olive oil) ; Bake at 350 degree F for about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle some coarsely ground almonds on the mushrooms. (You can use some cheese in place of almonds). Squirt some fresh Lemon Juice if you want.
Serve with some fruity Wine or your favorite cocktail. Beer is great too!
Who can resist the irresistible beauty?
These are absolutely awesome for parties. The button mushrooms being just the right size for a flavorful bite. Saffron is one of my favorite spice, & my regular readers will know about my love of garlic & sun dried tomatoes. Every thing combined here with the healthy crunch of almonds & the sweet of the roasted bell peppers, this Tapas is a winner for sure. This is Vegan Version – common everyone, this healthy, delightful Tapas is meant for all!
For more Stuffed Mushrooms around: