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.

Local organic mushrooms from Kitchen Pride in Gonzales, Texas, Chef John Watt strives to always use the freshest ingredients available

John’s food philosophy starts with the freshest ingredients, organic and local wherever possible.

These have a delicious earthy aroma

“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.

Yes, I wanted to eat and was happy to receive the dish

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.

For a small kitchen, Prego puts out a wide variety of vegetables

Serves 4

  • 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.

A generous sprinkle of parsley adds color and couples well with garlic, olive oil and the white wine

Toasted Walnut-Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

It’s amazing how quick this is on a hot grill

Roast the red pepper on a grill or directly on the flame. Sauté with a little garlic and deglaze the pan with white wine.

A little deglaze with white wine brings out the pyro in anyone

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.

Passing the pepper walnut puree through a sieve creates a mayo-like silky consistency

Can place in squirt bottle for use and storage.

Salsa Verde

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.

Pan-roasted organic mushrooms with toasted walnut-red pepper sauce and salsa verde

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.

This went really well with a robust pinot


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Quinoa 105: Strawberry Red Quinoa Pancakes with Cashew Butter Syrup
Foods I cannot pronounce but love: Muhammara Dip
La Crème Brûlée sans la Dairy pour le Vegan
Watermelon acts as nature's Viagra: Chef Luks drops some sexy knowledge on you fruit doubters
  • http://twitter.com/joel_luks/status/7174933461340161 Joel Luks

    Where to eat? Pan-roasted organic mushrooms with toasted walnut-red pepper http://goo.gl/fb/NLj86 #vegan

  • http://twitter.com/v3gan/status/7175566281146368 Vegan

    RT @Joel_Luks: Where to eat? Pan-roasted organic mushrooms with toasted walnut-red pepper http://goo.gl/fb/NLj86 #vegan

  • Maija Haavisto

    Mmm, sounds very yummy. The red pepper sauce is almost like muhammara, which I’ve tried to combine with some warm dishes, but never too successfully.

    I do recommend sauteing mushrooms without oil and only adding oil after they have released their liquids and most of it has evaporated. The result is just better that way.

    Regards,
    Maija Haavisto of Vegventures

About this site

VeganGoodEats.com is a compilation of my favorite recipes and experiences. Erasing the stereotype that we eat rabbit food, I hope that the site inspires you to live a cruelty-free life. There is enough to live peacefully and indulgently.

About Joel Luks

Intellectually curious arts advocate. Design junkie & blogger. Creative nutty vegan chef loving all ethnic foods in a quest to ensure vegan food is seen as delicious, varied, and yes, sometimes, indulgent. Classical flutist & sucker for rhythmic music.

I work for CultureMap.com, a Houston-based lifestyle digital magazine, where I report on food, arts, society and city life, produce videos and curate an events guide.

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