Stuffed Mushroom Poppers (with Pecan Parmesan!)

These little guys pop right into your mouth and are super bright and cheery.  Not to mention delicious. Alright, it’s the day before Thanksgiving.  The day where everyone runs around like a crazy person trying to clean and cook everything before family arrives.  At least that’s what it’s like in my house.  I was at the grocery store today, it was packed with an insane amount of people so it seems to be a trend.
Yesterday morning it was snowing and overcast.  As I started making ravioli for Thursday, I was thinking about a fun new appetizer to put out while my family arrived, something that was different, bright, and cheery.  That’s how these mushroom poppers were born.  Sweet potato and purple potato mash give these bites a burst of color while spinach adds a vibrant green on top of a meaty mushroom vessel. 

If you are pulling your hair out looking for a fun and creative appetizer, look no further.  The bold colors are topped only by the amazing flavor packed into each mushroom. They are a perfect compliment to the flavors of fall and winter, as well as a light appetizer that is ideal to start your Thanksgiving meal with. Nobody has enough room to eat a lot before the main feast, but you need something to ward off hunger pains from fasting all morning.  Plus, they make a great centerpiece!

I definitely ate a few of the roasted mushrooms without any stuffing.  I believe I’ve mentioned my love of mushrooms, but seriously they are that good!  When taking the stems out of the mushrooms make sure you really clean out the center, that way you can successfully stuff them.  I used a small spoon to scoop out the remaining pieces after taking the stems out with my hands.  This way you have more room to stuff the mushrooms with sautéed garlic spinach.  No one is mad about that! Topping the spinach with the colorful purple and sweet potatoes makes you want to reach out and eat one of these immediately.  The natural pop of color is very unique to most food and makes these that much more enjoyable.  
Pecan parmesan takes these morsels over the top!  The simple combination of roasted pecans, garlic, salt, and lemon juice does wonders for the depth of flavor in this dish.  While the flavor of pecan parmesan is not that of classic parmesan cheese, it is the perfect compliment to these mushrooms.  My goal was not to replicate cheese, but to create something that can be used like cheese.  It it brings a sweet, roasted, rich, fatty flavor that, in my opinion, is better than cheese in this dish!

Make these stuffed mushroom poppers anytime you really want to wow company and dig into some truly delicious grub.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Stuffed Mushroom Poppers
vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free

Roasted Mushrooms:
4-6 cups (about 42 ounces) mushrooms of your choice (I used baby bella and white stuffing mushrooms)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 salt
fresh ground pepper

Sauteed Spinach:
6 cups fresh spinach
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Mashed Potatoes:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 purple potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 large garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 tsp salt, divided
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp paprika, divided
1 tsp oregano, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, divided
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, divided

1 batch pecan parmesan, recipe follows

Directions:

For roasting the mushrooms:
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line a baking pan (that has raised edges) with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Clean and take the stem out of the mushrooms.  In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Toss mushrooms in marinade and lay them on prepared pan, stem side up.  Bake until mushrooms are tender, but not falling apart.  I baked the baby bella mushrooms for 20 minutes, and the white stuffing ones for about 12.

For the spinach:
In a pan, heat oil and garlic on medium heat.  Once garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds in hot oil), add spinach and sauté until wilted (about 1-2 minutes).  Add salt, pepper, and lemon.  Remove from heat.

For potato mash:
Add three cups of water to two pots, and bring both to a boil.  Add purple potato chunks to one, and sweet potato chunks to the other. Reduce heat to medium-high.  Cook until tender:  about 10 minutes for the purple potatoes and 15-20 for the sweet potatoes. Drain each pot and in separate batches.  Add potatoes to food processor with 1/2 the garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, almond milk, and coconut milk.  Wash the food processor between potato types.

To assemble:
Fill roasted mushrooms with spinach until the spinach is level with the edge of the mushroom.  Add mashed potatoes to two separate ziplock bags.  Push the potatoes to one corner and twist off the top. Cut a small hole in the edge of the bag where the potatoes are and pipe them on the spinach.  Get creative with combining the two potato colors!  Top with a sprinkling of pecan parmesan, and serve hot.

Pecan Parmesan
vegan, dairy free

1/2 cup pecans
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Toast pecans on a flat sheet in preheated oven for 8 minutes.  Add toasted pecans to a food processor with the rest of the ingredients.  Process until combined.  I like mine chunky so I only process for about 15-20 seconds.  If you want a finer texture, process longer.  

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