As happens occasionally, yesterday I found myself craving the flavors of my mom’s brasciole. Even as a child I’ve had a love-hate relationship with brasciole because I never liked the taste (or idea) of the beef it was made with but I loved the flavor of the garlicky seasoned bread crumbs on the inside and the marinara sauce on the outside.
I’ve made vegan brasciole before, but usually with seitan and sometimes with eggplant. This time I wanted to see if I could make it with Portobello mushrooms. And it worked!
The first and obvious challenge was to get the mushrooms to be flat and soft enough to stuff and roll up. After scraping the gills out, I placed each mushroom between two sheets of plastic wrap and pounded it flat. I then put the mushrooms in the microwave for just a few seconds to soften them. I then sprinkled them with minced garlic, parsley, raisins, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper, and rolled them up. To keep them from unrolling I tied the rolls in two places with kitchen twine and then pan-seared them until nicely browned and cooked through. Topped with marinara sauce, the flavor and texture was all the things I loved about mom’s original and none of the things I didn’t.
To serve alongside the brasciole, I had some nice baby arugula on hand so I made a double batch of Pan-Fried Arugula Pesto from Party Vegan to toss with some pasta. As I say in the book, raw garlic and arugula can both be assertive and pan-frying them for a couple minutes keeps their great flavors, but just mellows them out a little. I also added the walnuts to the skillet to toast them a little before using in the pesto. After cooking for about 2 minutes, I let the mixture cool for a minute and then process it in the food processor with salt and pepper, and a splash of water to smooth it out a little.
I had some arugula left after making the pesto, so I sauteed it with garlic and hot red pepper flakes to serve on the side. The verdict: This meal is going to be in regular rotation at our house — it was sooo good! In fact, we liked it even better than the seitan or eggplant version.I think my mom would have enjoyed the new version of her brasciole recipe. It occurs to me that my mom didn’t live long enough to taste a Portobello mushroom — she died before they became an everyday ingredient. I think she would have liked them — especially in her brasciole recipe!