The difference between English and Italian always fascinates me, especially when it comes to cooking terms. Not only does Italian sound beautiful, it often seems more accurate and visual. Take, for example, one of the Italian terms used for stuffing. When stuffing vegetables, squid or mussels, the word used is ripieni/e, which literally translates to re-filled. When I scrape out the centre of a zucchini or eggplant, or the guts of a calamari, I am visualising a new filling, un ripieno.
The English term, stuffed, seems much less desirable: it sounds crude and ordinary. In the last twenty years or so, the word has become the more acceptable term for the volgare, to fuck. ‘I’m stuffed, I can’t be stuffed, stuff it, get stuffed!’- are now quotidian versions of that vulgar form, but we all know what is indicated. How language evolves! I know that when I’m really annoyed, or sometimes even playful, I head straight to the ancient, Germanic sounding version, and don’t waste my time with stuffing or any grammatical forms thereof.
The recipe below makes an easy and fast entrée and is a good stand by.
Funghi Ripieni con Stracchino e Gremalata/ Stuffed Mushrooms with Stracchino and Gremolata.
- 8 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
- ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or more
- ¼ of one round of Stracchino cheese
- 1 cup day old breadcrumbs, sourdough or other rustic bread
- 2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary
- finely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic,or to taste.
Heat oven to 180c.
Lay mushrooms on lined baking tray. Use foil or baking paper as this enables the juice to be retained as the mushrooms cook. Fill the cavities with lumps of Stracchino cheese.
Mix the chopped herbs and garlic with half the breadcrumbs, wet a little with the oil. Add to the top of the cheese filled mushrooms. Add more crumbs to the top.
Using an oil pourer, liberally dress the top of the mushrooms with oil as well as around the base. You want some oil to reach under the mushrooms too.
Cook in the oven until the tops begin to brown and the mushrooms soften. The mushrooms will ooze some lovely juice. Serve two per person, drizzle with the juice from the pan and add a side salad of dressed bitter leaves such as radicchio.
Note- in the past I have tended to use fetta or even better, Persian fetta to stuff mushrooms, along with thyme and garlic in the topping. Stracchino cheese makes a nice change, given that it is a runny and very bland cheese, allowing the stronger tasting herbs to star.