From what I hear, there are a lot of people out there in the world who would prefer to go vegan, but feel they have to stay omnivorous for the benefit of their spouses or partners, friends, and families. I can sympathize: I felt strongly that opting out of animal products was the right choice for me, but before I made the decision to transition to a fully plant-based lifestyle, I hesitated to do so because I feared the change would inconvenience those around me.
So, how did I resolve the issue? Basically the same way I solve all my problems: through conversation. I talked with a few people close to me, and in particular my partner, the reasons why I felt it was important for me to go vegan. Those conversations gave them the opportunity to support me through the transition, and I was overwhelmed by how kind and understanding they were. Note: I was also considerate of them. This is key for those vegans among us without the luxury of a lot of like-minded friends. Doctors’ vow is, “First, do no harm.” As a vegan, mine is, “First, do not proselytize.”
Additionally, I learned to start cooking dishes that were delicious and complete without the use of animal foods. I think soy-based meat substitutions can be great when you’re transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, but because I no longer miss meat, I no longer really feel the urge to purchase or eat other foods that attempt to approximate it. The trick to eating a fully plant-based diet is not to substitute mock meats and cheeses for the animal-based versions; rather, the goal is to make meals so satisfying without the use of animal products that it doesn’t occur to you that anything is missing from the meal.
These stuffed portobellos are a fantastic example of a dish that has a deeply meaty umami-ness, a well-rounded flavor profile, and a deceptive level of fanciness (they’re quite easy but seem impressive on the plate). I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
Portobello mushrooms stuffed with eggplant-tomato sauce
Serves 2 with leftover sauce
- 2 portobello mushrooms, de-stemmed and marinated for about 2 hours. (Reese marinated them in a barbecue sauce-based mixture; if you want to see my general philosophy on how to marinate something, see this post.)
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 medium tomato
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups jarred tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place eggplant on a roasting pan and place in the oven. Yes, I’m serious. Roast the whole eggplant for 1 hour. (This step can be done a day or two in advance.)
- Allow the eggplant to cool to room temperature, then quarter lengthwise and chop into 1/2 inch pieces or so.
- While you are waiting for the eggplant to peel, halve the tomato (imagine the place where the stem was is the North Pole and cut through the equator) and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut the remaining halves into slivers and place in a large bowl.
- To the bowl, add the sundried tomatoes, tomato sauce, and balsamic; then add the eggplant and basil and stir to combine. Taste and season. Allow to marinate while you work on preparing the mushrooms.
- Drain the marinade off the mushrooms, and prepare a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place the mushrooms on the sheet, gill-side up.
- Fill each mushroom with the tomato-basil-eggplant mixture. I didn’t measure how much I used, but I’d guess it was about 1/4 to 1/3 cup per mushroom. Top each with a sprig of rosemary.
- Bake the stuffed mushrooms at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, basting with pan juices occasionally, until they’re roasted all the way through.
- Serve on a bed of greens. I paired ours with a bean-and-rice salad with a tahini dressing and lots of parsley.
In other news, today is Reese’s birthday! Many happy returns to the kindest, most generous, and most genuine person I’ve ever met.