I sometimes think that I owe my love of mushrooms to my father who claimed that mushrooms were poisonous. Since we ate them when they were hidden in my mother’s tuna noodle casserole and none of us died, I decided that my father had to be wrong at least about some mushrooms. Like many sons, I rebelled in small ways, one of which was to develop a craving for mushrooms when I became a teenager.
I ordered pepperoni and mushroom pizzas and spent the extra dollar to top our steaks with mushrooms when my prom date and I were having dinner at a local supper club. I liked the taste of mushrooms and knew that many were considered delicacies. Mrs. Hanus, our neighbor who picked wild mushrooms and cooked many dishes with them, told me when I was eight or nine years old that her parents used to sell some kinds of mushrooms for as much as a dollar a pound. I was impressed.
Mrs. Hanus added mushrooms to her pot roast and gravy, she made mushroom soup that didn’t come out of a can and she even baked mushrooms with buckwheat to make a kind of hot dish. Although I never saw one in her kitchen, I would not be surprised if she also made mushroom pies. I am certain that she would have if she had known this recipe.
If you like mushrooms as much as I do, and if you want to observe a Meatless Monday once in a while, this mushroom pie is a tasty choice.
1/2 – 3/4 lb. mushrooms
1 large onion (3 to 4 inches in diameter)
1 medium clove garlic
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. oregano
Pinches of crushed red pepper and salt
1 cup mozzarella cheese
4 oz. Neufchatel or cream cheese
1 large egg
1 T all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 nine or ten-inch pie crust
Line a nine-inch pie plate with a pie crust. Here is my recipe for Plain Pie Crust
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Clean and slice the mushrooms and set them aside in a bowl. Grate and set aside a cup of mozzarella cheese.
Remove the dry outer layers on the onion and garlic clove. Slice the onion in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Mince the garlic.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for two or three minutes, then stir in the vinegar, lemon juice, basil, oregano, red pepper and salt. Reduce the heat and continue cooking for four minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the onion and garlic in the skillet and cook for about
three more minutes over moderate heat. Remove the skillet from the heat to let the vegetables cool to a warm room temperature.
While the vegetables are cooling, blend the Neufchatel or cream cheese with the egg. Add the flour and milk and beat until you have a smooth batter.
When the vegetable mixture is cool, stir in the mozzarella cheese and spoon the mixture into the pie crust. Spread the cream cheese topping evenly over the vegetables and sprinkle the pie with grated Parmesan cheese.
Set the pie on a center shelf in the oven and bake for forty to forty-five minutes. Check for doneness at forty minutes. If a table knife inserted near the center of the pie comes out clean, the pie is done. If it does not, cook another five minutes or so.
Cool the pie on a rack for a few minutes before serving.
NOTES: You can use either white button or baby bella mushrooms, but I think that the bellas have more flavor. You could use half of each. Incidentally, baby bella is the more common name of the Cremino or Cremini mushroom in the United States.
Use a ten-inch pie plate if you use three-quarters of a pound of mushrooms.