Appetizer Spotlight FBC2017: Cashew Cheese & Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms by Sweetly Raw

Our appetizer contest is now closed, but we’re not through sharing this year’s submission! Wow, what a tough job we have ahead of us!!Bloggers are sharing their favourite appetizers, this time with a Canadian twist, for a chance to win their way in to FBC2017! FBC members were invited to join the contest, earning them entry and accommodations at the conference, as well as a spotlight feature at the Mushrooms Canada table during the opening night reception. For those of you who are just here for delicious eats, watch the competition unfold, as we share each entry and help us decide!

We’re excited to welcome Heather of Sweetly Raw, sharing a mouthwatering appetizer that’s healthy, delicious and versatile!Cashew Cheese & Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms
Inspired by mushroom picking as a child with my dad in Northern Ontario and my Mom’s famous stuffed mushrooms, I’ve created these herbed cashew cheese and caramelized onion stuffed mushrooms that are vegan and paleo – and they’re absolutely delicious! I’ve also done something similar with a baked almond cracker as the base. This makes for an elegant, beautiful and yet healthy appetizer that is sure to please anyone, regardless of dietary preferences.

Ingredients

Caramelized Onions
Feel free to make the onions a day before assembling the mushrooms. They keep in the fridge for 5 days.
1 teaspoon olive or avocado oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
2 pinches of Himalayan salt
*Mushroom stems + drizzle of olive oil+ pinch of salt

Mushrooms
Mixing the mushroom stems with the onions is the perfect way to use them in a discreet and tasty way.
*15 large white mushrooms and/or crimini (brown) mushrooms or 20-24 small ones
Note: Use small mushrooms to keep it to a 1-2 bite appy.

Cashew Cheese
This is delicious in the mushrooms but is also great on crackers, as a veggie dip, or spread in a wrap of choice. You can use whatever herbs you like or leave it plain. Also make sure to use the right amount of salt depending on the use for the cheese. It keeps in the fridge for up to 6 days.

1 cup raw cashew pieces (or whole)
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
3/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt*
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (I used oregano)
Blend all but the herbs in a high speed blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the herbs. Use immediately or refrigerate. It will firm up and become more spreadable as it chills.
*This amount keeps it on the salty side which is important when stuffing mushrooms. If you’re making the cheese to enjoy as a dip, stick to only 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Baked Almond Crackers
We can’t forget the crackers! I personally like a lot of different textures so I enjoy the crunch of a cracker along side the chewy/creamy mushroom caps. These are very simple, yet they’re my most favourite homemade cracker!!! You can add dried herbs if desired.
1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons olive or avocado oil

Method

Caramelized Onions
Heat a pot with a large bottom to medium heat. Add the oil and then the onions and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally (not too often, you want to create some colour on them). Add the salt and maple syrup. Lower to low heat, put the lid on but keep a small opening and cook another 15 minutes stirring periodically. When finished the onions should be soft, dark brown, and taste sweet.

Mushrooms
Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Stem each mushroom and finely chop the stems (transfer the caps to a baking sheet). Heat a drizzle of oil on medium/high heat in the same pot used for the onions. Add the stems/salt and cook, stirring frequently until golden brown, soft and fragrant. Add to the caramelized onions.

Stuffed Mushroom Assembly
Preheat an oven to 350F. Use a small spoon to spoon some cashew cheese into each mushroom cap, making sure it slightly mounds over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through (slightly soft to the touch). A little liquid will come out but that’s fine. Arrange some caramelized onions on top and sprinkle with finely chopped red pepper, green onion, and/or fresh herbs (I’m loving fresh oregano right now). These will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days but they’re best eaten upon assembly out of the oven.

Baked Almond Crackers
Preheat an oven to 350F. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the water and oil. Stir together using a spoon or your hands. The dough should be very moist and should hold together easily when pressed in your hand. If its TOO moist, add another tablespoon of almond flour. Form into a ball and roll very thin between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Either score into squares or use a cookie cutter as I did to make circles. Transfer to a parchment (optional) lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes until golden brown (they may look a little bubbly from the heat when you first take them out, that’s normal). The time depends on what size you make each cracker, so keep and eye on them, they can brown up quickly. Let cool and they’ll be nice and crunchy. Store at room temperature for 2 weeks.

Bio 
Heather Pace is a classically trained chef specializing in plant based cuisine. Heather is the author of Sweetly Raw Desserts, writes the blog Sweetly Raw, and teaches cooking classes in her city of Victoria, BC.

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FBC Members were encouraged to join the competition with their own recipe! The contest is now closed.

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