Where to eat? Pan-roasted organic mushrooms with toasted walnut-red pepper
A fantastic holiday (or any day) recipe from Prego’s executive chef John Watt. Vegan Good Eats puts his vegan cooking chops to the test. The result is an earthly orgy of organic mushrooms coupled with a silky sauce, dotted with salsa verde.
They ask, “where do you eat?”
I respond, “where do YOU eat?”
Nothing is perhaps more annoying than answering a question with another question, but that specific somewhat mischievous act proves a point. I eat where you eat: at restaurants. Sometimes, even at restaurants that some may think as not having any options for one that abstains from animal products.
Finding vegan fare is not as time consuming and as difficult as most think. Truthfully, the more I go “on the scene” and speak to real professional chefs, the more I realize that they have an amazing love for pleasing people. And most also love vegetables and know how to cook them really well.
This little exercise started with an email to a couple of PR friends looking for chefs wanting to feature vegan dishes that would be appropriate for thanksgiving. The first response I received was from John Watt, executive chef at Prego, one of Houston’s most sought out trattorias proposing his pan-roasted organic mushrooms with toasted walnut-roasted red pepper sauce and salsa verde.
John’s food philosophy starts with the freshest ingredients, organic and local wherever possible.
“I believe in keeping it simple, keeping the flavors clean, and using primarily high quality ingredients so you don’t have to do too much to them. A little like Mozart.”
Any reference to classical music I can understand.
I did not need more encouragement. Just a time, a place, and an empty tummy. I recharged my video camera and went on an adventure.
Lesson learned: It is amazing what can come out of a small kitchen at the hands of a pro.
- 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 portobello mushrooms, gills removed and cut into halves
- 16 shiitake mushrooms, tips clipped
- 16 oyster mushrooms, tips clipped
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon white wine
- 1 roasted red pepper, skin and seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon roasted garlic
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
- Sea Salt
- Cracked black pepper
In saucepan over medium heat, saute mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and diced fresh garlic until cooked yet still firm, approximately 3 minutes. Toss in Italian parsley, and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Deglaze pan with white wine.
Toasted Walnut-Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Roast the red pepper on a grill or directly on the flame. Sauté with a little garlic and deglaze the pan with white wine.
Puree together roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, toasted walnuts and remaining olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Press through sieve to remove any lumps.
Can place in squirt bottle for use and storage.
In a blender, emulsify together 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, 1 cup flat leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and sea salt & pepper to taste.
To serve, divide mushrooms among 4 plates, mounding in center of plate, and drizzle with salsa verde. Drizzle salsa verde on plate around the mushrooms.
Of course, this is best served and cooked by someone else, with a rich glass of pinot. At least, that was Chef Watt’s idea.