I wish I wrote in my journal more often than I do, but I seem to only find myself there when I am sad, working through decisions, or traveling. In each new journal, I have a list of goals on the back page. I always know where to find them, and it's fun looking at journals past to see what I actually attempted to pursue. The six pack abs and fluent spanish and are still pending a number of journals later. For some reason I've taken more action on those in my present journal, and in regards to cooking, I have: 'learn to make a tasty roast chicken' and 'perfect at least three new sauces'.
This recipe, sent to be by my Aunt Suzy who heard it on NPR's Splendid Table, certainly knocks out one of the three. It is easy, sweet, fresh and versatile. It is fairly thick, and would make an amazing spread on a sandwich. You could even thin it out and make it a salad dressing. Like I said, versatile, like the favorite sweatshirt of sauces.
STUFFED PORTABELLO MUSHROOMS WITH HERB SAUCE // Serves 4
4 Large Portabello Mushrooms
2 Bunches Fresh Spinach, Chopped
2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice, still warm
Zest of One Lemon
Salt and Pepper
GEORGIAN CILANTRO SAUCE // The sauce is adapted from Martha Rose Shulman's series Recipes for Health in The New York Times. It keeps in the fridge for about 5 days, but be warned that the garlic develops as it sits and effects your breath accordingly.
2 oz Dried Apricots
1 Cup Boiling Water
1/3 Cup Toasted Walnuts
2 Garlic Cloves (to taste), halved, green shoots removed
1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Salt (more to taste)
2 cups Cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 Cup Parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mixed Basil, Tarragon, and Dill
1/4 Cup Walnut Oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil works fine too)
3/4 Cup soaking water from the Apricots, as needed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
For the Sauce:
1. Place the dried apricots in a bowl and pour on the boiling water. Let sit for at least an hour, more if possible, even overnight. Drain over a measuring cup and retain 3/4 cup of the soaking water.
2. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic. When it is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the bowl. Add the walnuts, and process with the garlic. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the drained apricots, the lemon juice, salt, pepper and red pepper to the bowl, and process to a puree. Add the cilantro and other chopped herbs, and puree, stopping the machine to scrape down the sides several times. Combine the walnut oil and soaking water from the apricots, and with the machine running, gradually add it to the puree. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Taste and adjust salt. Best at room temperature.
For the Mushrooms:
Oven at 375’
3. Remove the stems from the mushrooms, brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper. Put them on a baking sheet, and bake on the upper rack for 8 minutes to soften. Remove.
4. Remove the stems from the spinach and give it a rough chop. Saute the spinach in 2 tbsp. olive oil until just wilted. Add to the warm brown rice and mix together. Add the lemon zest, pinch of salt and pepper. Amount of oil is your discretion here.
5. Add a heaping half cup of the spinach and rice mixture onto the gill side of the mushrooms and sprinkle with fresh herbs and desired amount of sauce.