Prep 10 mins Bake 20 mins Serve 30 mins
Are you looking for a quick and easy appetizer for a holiday party? Prep these Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese in 10 minutes or so and then pop them into the oven as soon as your guests arrive. They will be ready to serve in 20 minutes and will disappear to rave reviews.
Appetizers are the perfect holiday food. Some people prepare an entire party with nothing but appetizers, so that people can graze and enjoy socializing and networking with other people, without committing to sitting at a table for an entire evening. It’s a great way to get to know more people than the few sitting next to you. But for holiday parties, it’s just easier. You can pull together a potluck of nothing but appetizers and it’s easy to bring to a party. Here’s one of my favorite appetizers that I made at a party this summer for Frieda Caplan, founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce.
I was honored to be asked to cater Frieda’s Leo Birthday Party this summer. I have a soft spot in my heart for Frieda. I met her about five years ago and we became fast friends, maybe because we are both Leos, as I learned this summer. It has been a pleasure getting to know this now 93-year old, down-to-earth dynamo, who’s won numerous awards over her career. Frieda Caplan was a trailblazer in the 1960s, as the first woman entrepreneur on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market.
Frieda was known as “the Mushroom Queen” because she found a market to sell brown mushrooms, when no other produce seller wanted them. The fact that you can now find these brown or “cremini” mushrooms (needed for this recipe) in nearly every supermarket in America is because of Frieda Caplan. The same is true for other produce we now take for granted like the kiwi, the watermelon radish pictured above or over 200 exotic fruits and vegetables that she introduced to the U.S. We can thank Frieda for the riches in our produce aisle today. She has also mentored a lot of women along the way, including her two daughters and granddaughter who now run her company.
So let’s talk about how to keep mushrooms fresh longer.
When you get them home from the supermarket, IMMEDIATELY remove them from the plastic packaging. Have you ever opened a package of mushrooms to find them slimy? Mushrooms need to breathe, and the best way to store them is in a brown paper bag. I’ve had mushrooms stored this way in my fridge for awhile and the only thing they start to do is dry out, which is no big deal. Just soak them in a little water before using in your recipe.
Garnishing is the key to beautiful appetizer platters.
For the Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese, try these tips.
- Use a fun colorful or silver tray. You can use a simple doily like above or get really creative with some produce.
- Look for contrasting colors for your garnish. These mushroom caps would have been prettier and more stable sitting on shredded green cabbage under them had I remembered to put it on the platter (I found the cabbage at the end of the evening).
- Don’t crowd the platter. Have space between each appetizer so that people have rooms to put their fingers to grab them and just place them on the edge of the tray if it is passed.
- Place something interesting in the center. I love the Brown Clam Shell Mushroom Clump I found at the Korean market.
- A green or red garnish always make a platter pop. I love the beautiful Watermelon Radish slices on this platter. Still difficult to find, Frieda’s has just started marketing them in clear plastic packages. Kind of ugly and green on the outside, they are a complete surprise when you slice into them. Each one has a unique red and white pattern on the inside.
So when you are making and eating your Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese, think about Frieda and the variety of produce now available to us…and when you see Frieda’s branded products in the store, know that your purchase is supporting a network of successful women entrepreneurs that continue to surprise us with an even larger selection of food for us to eat.
Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese
28 large cremini or white button mushroom caps, stems removed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon chile flakes
1 Tablespoon chives, snipped
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Remove stems from mushrooms and clean them with a wet paper towel. Place on a well-oiled baking sheet.
2. In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, goat cheese, pine nuts, parsley, garlic and chile flakes.
3. Spoon the goat cheese mixture into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Sprinkle with panko. Bake until mushrooms are tender and the tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Servings: 28 – 100 calories per serving
Oven Temperature: 400°F