In Which It Ain’t Purty (But It’s Good)

Every so often we get really ambitious about our cooking, which, I’ve discovered, is all well and good if we do it in advance but all well and bad if we try and do it during the week when everyone is tired. Anyway, this particular ambitious dish I made well in advance (for the most part), and despite its three components, it turned out well and was pretty simple mid-week.
What is it, you ask? Well, it’s Mushroom Kufteh with Green Harissa and Asparagus Pesto. I know – even the name is intimidating. When the Boy picked it out, my first thought was, “I don’t know about this…” But I boldly plunged ahead, sauteing mushrooms…
Millions of mushrooms.

Mushrooms all cooked and lovely.

Forming the mushroom patties…(by the way, this makes a fantastic vegetarian option)…

Ready for mushrooms.

The mushroom mixture.

Patties made and ready to be refrigerated.

…and making the condiments, which, despite their plethora of ingredients, turned out to be much less difficult that I had foreseen. Both of them were basically throw-everything-in-the-blender (or, in our case, food processor) recipes, which made for quick work.

Green Harissa

Asparagus Pesto

By the time it came to actually eat dinner, all we had to do was cook the patties (of course, this resulted in our usual patty-related issue of semi-disintegration) and cover with sauces.

Patties a-cookin’.

There was no way to take a pretty picture of this. I am not a skilled plater, by any means, and while the pesto was a lovely green, this all looks a bit like a big plop of mush. However, it was good – hearty and tasty and very different. The Boy brought the leftovers for lunch the next day, so I know it was a hit with him. So pretty or not, I’d call this kufteh (whatever that might mean) a success.

The finished dish.

Mushroom Kufteh with Green Harissa and Asparagus Pesto
From the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2012 

I’ve just linked to the condiment recipes at the end of this receipe, since I didn’t want to have this drag on for hours and hours and pages and pages, but you definitely have to make them – they are what make this dish worth eating. We each ate two patties apiece, meaning this makes more like three servings if you’re big eaters like us, but I imagine if you had some sort of side dish one patty apiece would be plenty.

Yield: 6 Servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms, such as oyster and stemmed shiitake, thinly sliced (8 cups)
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (2 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
In a nonstick skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 12 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a work surface and let cool slightly, then coarsely chop. Transfer the mushrooms to a large bowl. Add the panko, cheese, parsley, basil, lemon juice and cayenne and season with salt. Add the eggs and egg whites and knead the mixture to combine.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using lightly moistened hands, form the mushroom mixture into six 1-inch-thick patties and set them on the baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Preheat a grill pan or a griddle, preferably nonstick, and brush with olive oil. Brush the kufteh with oil and grill over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 5 minutes. Return the kufteh to the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until hot throughout. 
Serve the kufteh with Green Harissa and Asparagus Pesto.

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