I love Italian food. Love, love, love it. I could happily eat pasta and pizza everyday, but they say variety is the spice of life, so I’ve been dating other cuisines and by and large I’m happy about it. But Italian will always be my one true love, and it’s the food I’m most likely to take a break from Paleo eating with. Living in San Francisco, there’s no shortage of great Italian food, and a recent quest for tasty Neapolitan pizza led me to Del Popolo, a food truck turned brick and mortar pizza restaurant that is also turning out smart and seasonal appetizers. On most menus, there’s a dish that’s non-negotiable. One that, no matter what the group wants to order, you’re getting – even if it means eating it alone. This was one of those dishes, but luckily the group was equally excited to try it.
Meaty, seared king trumpet mushrooms on top of a smooth mushroom caramel (more on what the heck that is in a bit!), with crispy salty prosciutto chips and a bright chimichurri on top combine to form a dish that makes a stunning appetizer but doubled up would make a delicious and hearty dinner. Seriously, think about putting this one onto your menu and wowing your Thanksgiving guests (plus, it’s shockingly easy).
I started by making the mushroom caramel and chimichurri, both of which can be made ahead of time and saved in the fridge for up to two days. The mushroom caramel is a revelation, and you might find yourself making this one on it’s own, as it would pair well with any roasted veggies and alongside some roasted meat. White mushrooms get cooked down with some coconut aminos and honey until they become these sweet little umami bombs. Blend until smooth and then run through a fine mesh strainer in order to get this as smooth as possible, as there are other chunkier textures in the dish and this one is meant to be more silky (the quality of your blender/processor will dictate how smooth this gets. I don’t have a great blender at home, so my caramel is not as smooth as it could be!). This recipe can be made whole30 by removing the honey from the caramel, though this will make it decidedly more savory. Still delicious, just a slightly different dish.
King Trumpet mushrooms are so fun – meaty and easy to cut and handle (in past Top Chef episodes I’ve seen cheftestants use coins cut from their stems to replicate the look of scallops, for a tasty twist that confuses the senses). I scored them with tiny crosshatches because I saw this in the restaurant version of the dish and I’m guessing this does something good like make all the delicious ghee soak into the pores of the mushrooms, but I don’t have a more technical answer than that!
Plating this dish is where the fun starts. Even a novice home cook can make this one look like a restaurant quality dish. You could even go over the top and put the mushroom caramel in a squeeze bottle and create tiny drops of caramel along the base of the serving dish before layering on the other components. Here, I simply do a spoonful or two at the bottom. Then, lay a foundation of trumpet mushrooms, building like they are artful Lincoln Logs. Weave in some crispy prosciutto chips, then drizzle with the zippy chimichurri and you will have a dish that’s balanced, beautiful, and begging to be served to a hungry audience.
Meaty caramelized mushrooms meet their match with salty prosciutto and a bright chimmichurri for a delicious appetizer that’s sure to wow folks!
- 10 King Trumpet Mushrooms
- 8oz white button mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons honey (add more to taste if you want a sweeter caramel)
- 1 tablespoon ghee for the caramel plus 1 more for the seared trumpet mushrooms (2 total)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 pieces prosciutto
- SaltFor the Chimichurri:
- 1 cup Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh mint
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Make the chimichurri first and set aside. In a food processor (mini size works best), pulse the parsley, mint, oregano, pepper flakes, garlic, shallot and salt. Pulse several times until relatively smooth. Pulse in the vinegar and olive oil.For the mushrooms:
- Roughly chop the white button mushrooms
- In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the ghee over medium heat and add the button mushrooms
- Sautee for 3-5 minutes and let the mushrooms release their moisture and begin to brown
- Reduce the heat to medium low and add the 3 tablespoons of coconut aminos and the 2 tablespoons of honey. Let mushrooms continue to cook down and caramelize. In about 10 minutes, taste one to assess taste and texture. You are looking for a sweet and soft little bite that will easily puree. Remove from heat when done
- While the white mushrooms are caramelizing, clean and cut the king trumpet mushrooms into thirds (vertically) and score the exposed sides
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee and 1.5 tablespoons olive oil in a large sautee pan over medium high heat
- Add the trumpet mushrooms and sautee for about 4 minutes per side until nice and browned. Sprinkle with salt and set aside
- Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Add prosciutto and crisp up and tear into chip sized pieces
- Puree the button mushroom caramel and run through a fine strainer for silkiest possible consistency. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to thin this out before straining.
- To plate: Add some caramel to the bottom of the plate or bowl. Layer on the trumpet mushrooms with prosciutto chips and top with a drizzle of chimichurri
You can make this recipe even easier by omitting the caramel. It takes less than 20 minutes if you do!
Keywords: appetizer, trumpet mushrooms, chimmichurri, prosciutto