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Friday, December 3, 2010

Cheese stuffed mushrooms and cheese fusilli with herbs and aioli

This is, obviously, Italian-inspired. The starter mushrooms look lovely and taste even lovelier, while the strong herbal aroma of the fusilli is never out of season. This is a very balanced dish, as it is quite consistent while remaining reasonably light. Ready in about 30 minutes, it's not complicated to make and tastes quite classical Mediterranean. We drank with it some home made lemonade, but white wine should do just as well.

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 400 g of fresh mushrooms (Champignon)
  • 400 g of Gouda cheese (or any other kind of yellow cheese with about 40-45% fat)
  • 400 g of fusilli (don't use other shapes of pasta, they are fit for more fluid sauces, as the fusilli gather cheese and vegetable solids in their curves better)
  • 400 ml of tomato sauce (organic or made by yourself if you own a blender)
  • 1 whole garlic
  • 2 table spoons of dried basil (a fresh handful of leaves would be even better)
  • 2 table spoons of dried marjoram (a fresh handful of leaves would be even better)
  • 150 ml of low-fat yogurt
  • the juice from half a lemon
  • some olive oil
  • some salt

First, gather all your ingredients and tools. Start by putting all the mushrooms in a plate so you can clean them up. Don't wash them - not before, nor after this process - they'll be clean enough and running water over them will wash away their aroma. To start, separate the mushroom hats from the rest, like this:
Next, hold the mushroom skin and peel it towards the outside, until the hat remains completely clean and skinless:
Continue until you've finished cleaning all the mushroom hats. Clean the rest of each mushroom by razing them with a knife, just like peeling potatoes, until you have all of the mushrooms clean and ready:
Put the fusilli in a pot almost filled with salted water, then place the pot over a heat source to boil until the time mentioned on the pasta package is up:
Get the Gouda cheese finely chopped and put it on a plate. Start filling the mushroom hats with it, gently pressing it into them with your fingers:
As you fill a mushroom hat, place it on an oven backing tray, on heat-proof folio or backing paper. Let enough distance between the mushrooms, as juices or even a little cheese will flow out while they'll cook:
After putting all the mushrooms on the tray, close the oven and heat it at 180 degrees Celsius or medium intensity. Let the mushrooms bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese completely melts and juice flows out of the mushrooms.
Put the rest of the cheese in a very large bowl. Start cutting the rest of each mushroom into finer pieces:
When you finish, add it all over the cheese. Add the tomato sauce, the basil and marjoram and the olive oil. Leave it like that.
Take the fusilli off the heat source and drain the water. Put them over the bowl with the rest of ingredients and mix everything together with two forks or spoons. Do it fast, so the fusilli are still hot enough to melt the cheese and blend everything together:
Put the yogurt in a glass or a small bowl. Peel the garlic and smash it or finely cut it. Add it to the yogurt:
Add a gurgle of olive oil (about 5 ml), a pinch of salt and the juice of half a lemon:
Mix everything together with a teaspoon. The aioli sauce is ready :). Get the mushrooms out of the oven and onto a serving plate:
Decorate each mushroom with a bit of aoili sauce:
Pour the remaining aioli into the fusilli bowl:
Mix the aioli with the rest of the fusilli. Serve the mushrooms as a hot appetizer. The pasta will be just as good a few hours later, so you can serve it either hot or cold. Everything is ready, dig in!

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