Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms

 This week is much too long. I'm very busy at work, and looking forward to the weekend (and the end of the rain).

Even if you've been keeping up with the social schedule the past few months, the spring kind of brings people out from under their rocks. The slightly warmer air after the rain passes reminds us to get out, get a drink, and have some fun together.

If this looks to be one of those weekends for you, and you're thinking, "what the heck do I make for those crazy kids comin' over for some beers?", then this stuffed mushroom recipe might be just the thing. It's basically spinach and artichoke dip in a mushroom, so it's a guaranteed good time. But, instead of gorging on gob after gob of dip on a starchy chip, these satisfy much more quickly and healthily.

Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms
8oz package Baby Bella mushrooms (about 10 mushrooms), cleaned and stems removed
2 tsp finely diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced (2 tsp)
¼ C artichoke hearts (oil packed, Italian style marinated), diced
1-1/2 C frozen spinach, thawed, drained and water squeezed out
3 T cream cheese
1 T grated parmesan cheese
2 slices fakin’ bacon, cooked and diced (morning star farms veggie
bacon strips)
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

1. Heat oven to 400F. Prepare a baking dish by drizzling a bit of olive oil into the bottom, or spritz with non-stick spray.

2. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel and remove the stems by gently popping them out with a teaspoon. For baby bella (little portobello) mushrooms, no need to remove the gills as there aren’t many. You may want to scrape them out a bit if using white mushrooms. Place the caps in the baking dish and drizzle them with oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Reserve the stems for another use, or discard.

3. Prep the filling ingredients by gently heating the frozen spinach, draining in a wire strainer and pressing with a paper towel to squeeze out all the excess liquids. Cook the bacon by microwaving on high about 1 minute until crispy, and chop. Heat the cream cheese, as well, or bring it to room temp so it’s squishy.

4. In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, and add the garlic for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the artichoke hearts, spinach, cream cheese, parmesan and bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Using a teaspoon, drop the filling into the mushrooms. Top off with excess filling. Bake at 400F about 15-20 minutes until mushrooms start to wrinkle and turn dark brown, releasing their juices into the pan. Bake longer for larger “stuffer” mushrooms.

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