The holiday season is upon us, and that means it’s time to get into the kitchen and whip up those age-old family recipes with a modern twist. Today I’m changing up a traditional holiday appetizer for a plant-based approach: Stuffed Mushrooms. These mushrooms trade in the usual breadcrumb or meat filling for a vegetarian and gluten-free option: Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheddar, Apple & Sage.
Stuffed mushrooms are a staple appetizer around the holidays. And why not, given you can do so much with them! Stuffed mushrooms are typically filled with either a mixture or breadcrumbs & egg, or a meat filling (think sausage or crab).
These mushrooms are part of my effort to invite more plants to the holiday parties. Too often bringing veggies to a party means bringing the crudité platter. But you don’t have to be so basic. Whip up these Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheddar, Apple & Sage and you’ll be a plant-based hero among your friends and family.
Serve up these Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheddar, Apple & Sage at your next holiday event for a perfect plant-based appetizer!
Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheddar, Apple & Sage
As you may be able to tell, I enjoy playing with plant-based forms of protein to change things up (see Sunflower Tacos in Collard Leaves and Vegan Lasagna Roll-ups for a few examples). A few months ago, I came across a recipe for “walnut meat” and I tucked the idea away in my brain for the right time to resurrect it – and there’s no time like the holidays for a resurrection.
I experimented making walnut meat sausage and mixing it into a light alfredo one night when the weather was nasty and I had no desire going out to obtain one of our usual main protein items (typically seafood). I had a ton of walnuts leftover thanks to a corporate wellness “make your own trail mix” table, so I started playing around making walnut sausage by gently pulsing together walnuts and sausage seasoning blend for a quick plant-based protein. I thought what a great filling this would make for stuffed mushrooms, and here we are!
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To round out the flavors, I added apples for a little sweetness, cheddar to help bind the stuffing together, and sage to add a savory flavor. Since I aim to minimize food waste, even the mushroom stems are used to make the filling (also acts as a binder due to no egg used in the stuffing recipe). These mushrooms are packed with fiber from the mushroom itself, walnuts, and apples, plus sage contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These stuffed mushrooms are gluten-free, as no breadcrumbs are used, and this recipe is vegetarian. To make vegan, swap the cheddar for a non-dairy cheddar or nutritional yeast.
Walnuts in place of meat are an amazing swap. Not only are you replacing saturated fats found in meat for heart healthy unsaturated fats, but walnuts are one of the best sources of omega-3s. They also contain antioxidants, can help lower cholesterol, and fight inflammation. I always say they’re shaped like little brains because they promote brain health. Talk about #TeamGoodFat! Start by soaking the walnuts for 20 minutes, then drain. This will help the seasoning blend stick to the walnuts and help pulse to a consistency of ground meat.
An Apple a Day
Apple is used to add some sweetness to these mushrooms. Plus, what says fall more than apples??? Use a sweet, crisp red apple, such as gala or red delicious for this recipe. On my first go around for this recipe I tried granny smith, but they were a little too bitter. So a sweeter apple is definitely key here. Apples are a fantastic source of fiber. Although the skin of apples is very beneficial, it gets removed in this recipe to help soften the apples and prevent a chewy, fibrous texture when cooked. Save those apple peels and cores to make some mulled wine to serve at your party or holiday event (you can freeze them until needed).
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Putting it All Together
I recommend using the large stuffing mushrooms, which are abundant in the stores during the holidays. But if unavailable, regular sizes white mushrooms will work well too. Start by reserving and chopping up the mushroom stems after they are removed from the mushrooms during the cleaning process. Sauté the stems with shallots and apples, which will create the mixture that helps bind the filling together. Sage is added after the pan is removed from heat to enhance the flavor without overcooking it. Pulse the soaked walnuts with the sausage seasoning blend, then combine with the apple/sage/shallot/stem mixture along with cheese. Using your hands, start by creating balls similar to small meatballs, then gently stuff and shape into the mushrooms. Optional to top with additional cheese before baking.
Should you happen to have any leftover filling, shape them into patties and make vegetarian breakfast sausages with them.
If making these Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheddar, Apple & Sage in advance, stuff the mushrooms and cover with plastic wrap. They will keep 1-2 days before baking. Or you can store the filling separately and stuff the mushrooms the day you plan to serve these up. If you are going right from the fridge to the oven, add another 10-15 minutes of cooking time on, as the cold mushrooms will need more time to cook.
- Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender with Attachments
- Non-stick 12” fry pan
- Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set
- Mini Food Processor
- Sheet Pan
Serve these Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheddar, Apple & Sageup as an appetizer or side dish at your holiday gatherings. Or put out at your next buffet, cocktail party, or passed appetizer event. Enjoy bringing those plants to the party- they’ll be glad they were invited!
Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms with Cheddar, Apple & Sage
- 8 stuffing mushrooms or 16 regular sized white mushrooms cleaned with stems removed and set aside
- 1 shallot chopped
- 1 gala or red delicious apple peeled and diced (approx. 1 C)
- 1 TB olive oil or walnut oil
- 1 TB chopped fresh sage
- 1 C walnuts soaked at least 20 minutes
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp ground sage
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese plus extra for topping
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line cleaned mushroom caps with stems removed on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or nonstick foil
Chop mushrooms stems by hand or lightly pulse in a food processor
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan. Sauté shallots and apples 1-2 minutes, then add chopped mushroom stems. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until apples have softened. Remove pan from heat and stir in fresh sage.
Drain walnuts and place in food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except cheese. Gently pulse the walnut and spice mixture a few times until the mixture represents the consistency of ground meat.
Place walnut sausage meat into a mixing bowl and add cheese plus the sautéed stem/apple/shallot/sage mixture. Stir until combined and mixture is completely moistened.
Using hands (gloves recommended here), shape mixture into small meatballs, then gently stuff and form into mushroom caps. Optional top with additional cheese.
Bake 15 minutes and serve immediately.
To make these mushrooms vegan, swap the cheddar for non-dairy cheddar shreds or nutritional yeast
For a quick seasoning for the walnut sausage, use 1 TB Wildtree Sausage Seasoning Blend
If you happen to have any leftover filling, shape them into patties and make vegetarian breakfast sausages
MAKE AHEAD OPTION:
If making in advance, stuff the mushrooms and cover with plastic wrap. They will keep 1-2 days before baking. Or you can store the filling separately and stuff the mushrooms the day you plan to serve these up. If you are going right from the fridge to the oven, add another 10-15 minutes of cooking time on, as the cold mushrooms will need more time to cook.