holiday recipes: stuffed portobello mushrooms with pear, red onion and walnuts

Sarah B. has pretty much the greatest food blog around. Not only do I recommend it, I live by it. Seriously, most of her recipes have made their way onto my kitchen table more than once. Because I have been without a kitchen for the past three months (with one more month to go), I now have a few months worth of recipes to cook my way through upon my return to Munich.

Now I have even more recipes to cook my way through. At the beginning of December Sarah announced her Holiday Reader Recipe Challenge. She invited readers to submit festive (and healthy) recipes that taste like the holidays to them. If you think that being a continent away from my kitchen would stop me from coming up with a holiday recipe then you have underestimated my obsession with cooking (especially holiday cooking). Sarah very generously compiled all of the entries into a PDF. Merry Christmas indeed!

As I said, I could not resist sending in a recipe. For this reason I do not have any pictures to send along. I came up with this recipe years ago when I was beginning to realize that this thing between cooking and I was much more than a fling. This was before I added photography to my relationship with food. However, the ingredients are all quite photogenic so I am sure that you won't have any difficulty imagining how they look (and taste) all together.

My recipe is for stuffed Portobello mushrooms with pear, red onion, and walnuts. When I first started making these stuffed mushrooms, I rather indulgently ate this for dinner at least once a week during my second year of university. I was hooked. Now that I have matured (at least in the kitchen, sometimes, I think) I realize that this recipe is quite rich and is best suited for indulgent occasions. New Years maybe?

Mushrooms are often stuffed with liver or with breadcrumbs. Keeping with the healthy spirit of My New Roots, this is a recipe for stuffed mushrooms that is gluten-free and (mostly) vegan. A little blue cheese or goat cheese on top is certainly grand, but the flavours are rich enough that the cheese is not at all necessary.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Pear, Red Onion and Walnuts

Makes 2 Stuffed Mushrooms


2 Portobello mushrooms
1 Pear
1/2 a small red onion, chopped into chunks
A handful of walnuts, coarsely chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil and/or a neutral cooking oil that likes mushrooms
Fresh rosemary and thyme


A few crumbles of blue cheese or soft goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Begin by warming some neutral cooking oil or ghee in a pan on medium heat. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt. Occasionally stir when the onions begin to stick to the pan, but don't stir too much as you want the onions to begin to caramelize.

While the onion cooks, wash the Portobello mushrooms and pat them dry. Remove the stems and put to the side. Rub the mushrooms with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt. Place in a baking dish and then in the oven for about 5-7 minutes so that the skin begins to soften.

Roughly chop the mushroom stems and the pear. Add both to the pan with the red onion and cook until they begin to soften. You don't want either to cook thoroughly, just enough so that they are soft. Remove from the heat and add the walnuts, a pinch of sea salt and finely chopped rosemary and thyme.

Remove the Portobello mushrooms from the oven, spoon the mixture onto them so that the stuffing slightly overflows and then return the pan to the oven. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until they are incredibly fragrant, the stuffing is soft and the Portobellos are slightly shriveled. If you wish, add some blue cheese or soft goat cheese the last few minutes that the mushrooms are in the oven and bake until the cheese melts.



christmas cards from goa

Happy Holidays!



Before leaving Mumbai I finally made the trip over to Elephanta. On the ferry ride I was chatting with a few fellow North Americans who were curious about my two months in the city. They asked me if I had been shopping. Had I bought any souvenirs? Any scarves? Pashmina scarves? "No," I said, "but I have bought plenty of tea, flour, ginger drops and spices."

If eating is one of the best parts about traveling, then surely edible souvenirs are the best trinkets to fill one's suitcase with?

A few (edible) souvenirs from India

Cardamom, Spirulina, Stevia, Green pepper, Vanilla, Ragi flour, Roasted Amaranth, Masala tea, Cardamom tea, Ginger and lemongrass tea, black tea, Tulsi (holy basil) tea, nutmeg, ginger drops, and a few small, goodie bags of spices

I have a month and a half in this country - a country where I find it difficult to not clear my plate no matter how much food may be on it - so certainly this list will continue to grow.


postcards from kerala I

There is something mysterious about seeing the most colourful places in black and white.


south indian eating

Dear Kerala,

Thanks for the hot December. You taught me that I have no limits when it comes to fresh fruit juices and that lunch is sexiest when served on a banana leaf. Also, I promise to keep eating red rice long after I have left.

Love Sasha


raspberries and almonds

On the theme of breakfast, I have been missing making my own. India is certainly spoiling me with fresh juices (tonight I had a cucumber, mint and lime juice along with some Keralan prawns). However, I cannot help but miss my breakfast smoothies. You know, the type of smoothies that you can pack with flax seeds, or hemp powder, or bee pollen, or spinach, or anything else that is healthy and less likely to appear in your meals later in the day?

Raspberries and almonds belong together and combined they certainly make an addictive smoothie. Most days I like to keep things simple and let the two just do their thing; however, feel free to add (just don't subtract). Once again, this is more of a formula than a recipe, but the more that I cook the more that I believe that formulas, rather than recipes, make the best meals.

Raspberry and Almond Smoothie

Serves 1-2


1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 frozen banana
1 very generous tbsp of almond butter
1 cup water

Optional additions:

1 tsp bee pollen or honey
a pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp ground flax seeds
1 Medjool date (make sure to finely blend)

In a blender combine all of the ingredients. Garnish with some finely chopped almonds if you wish (I am normally much too lazy/hungry in the mornings). Serve and enjoy.



spoiled with breakfast

Boy am I ever lucky. After two months of the hustle and bustle of working in Mumbai I am on a two month vacation in India. Yes, I am very lucky. This vacation began in a courtyard in the middle of the city's hustle and bustle: the Taj Mahal Hotel. I thought that I knew all of the tricks when it comes to making a good breakfast; however, the Taj has taught me a few more.

Breakfast Moments from the Taj Mahal, Mumbai to Repeat

  • Bircher muesli with amaranth and coconut milk
  • Fresh juice - cucumber and mint; watermelon; sweet lime; apple and spinach
  • Fresh fruit - papaya; pineapple; melon; plums; bananas; white grapefruit; pomegranate
  • Tofu scramble in miso broth with fresh chili
  • Pears stewed in rose water; stewed apples; stewed prunes; stewed figs

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