Little Peruvian “Beak Peppers,” also known as Sweetie Drops, are making their way to our dinner plates adding a little punch of acid and mild heat.
While roaming through the market this week, I came across two unusual ingredients and knew I had to create a dish that would use them both.
The first was not as much unusual but outsized. I found shiitake mushrooms that at first glance appeared to be portabella mushrooms. They were much larger than usual, but nice and fresh and firm and I thought they would be lovely stuffed.
The second item I had seen only once before – a tiny little Peruvian pepper, shaped with a beak, and packed in brine. These “binquinho” peppers referred to as sweet drops, or sweetie drops, are also called little beak peppers because of their shape. They are indeed sweet, with just a touch of heat. I had them previously at a restaurant up North served along with calamari and onions, and I was anxious to try using them myself.
If you cannot find large shiitake, substitute portabella mushrooms, gills removed. The recipe won’t make as many, and one will institute a meal! You can also use the large white stuffing mushrooms.
The little beaks might be hard to find, but you can substitute any pickled pepper you like, sweet or hot in this recipe.
For the chèvre, I used the Vermont Creamery Classic Goat Cheese https://www.vermontcreamery.com/products/fresh-goat-cheese/classic-goat-cheese-log/ because that is what I had on hand, but on another day I might have used any other local goat cheese I liked!
A favorite combination
I used a cranberry chutney here because I had it on hand, and because I love the combination of creamy goat cheese with tangy cranberries – I make a simple cheese log out of goat cheese, cranberry chutney, minced parsley, and lime zest, mixed together and formed into a ball, and rolled in toasted pine nuts. This gave me the initial idea for the stuffing.
However, you can certainly use whatever your favorite chutney and make it yours.
The breadcrumbs were from fresh bread that I whirled through the mini food processor. You can also use a hand grater. If you don’t have left-over quinoa, you can always use rice or other grain.
Chèvre & Cranberry stuffed Shiitake Mushroom
8 large shiitake mushrooms, OR 4 portabella
½ onion, minced
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
½ tsp. Paprika
4 oz. chèvre, softened at room temperature
¼ cup cranberry chutney, or other favorite chutney
¼ cup parsley, minced
1 cup quinoa, cooked
2 tbsp. sweetie drop peppers, diced
Arugula and more peppers to serve
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
Sauté the onion in a little olive oil until soft and starting to brown on the edges. Add the garlic, breadcrumbs and paprika and continue to cook for a few minutes. Remove to a bowl.
Mix together gently but not completely the goat cheese and chutney. You want them combined, but with still visible identities.
To the onion bowl, add the parsley, chutney, quinoa, diced peppers, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
Divide the mixture and stuff the mushrooms. Divide the chèvre/cranberry mixture into 8 and top each mushroom, pressing down a bit. You can also add toasted pine nuts or other nut to the top at this point for a little crunch.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened and the tops have firmed.
Serve on a bed of mixed greens. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, a splash of the pepper brine, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
This makes a lovely lunch, or serve just one prettied up as a starter for a dinner party. You can make it all in advance earlier in the day, and pop it in the oven to cook while you’re pouring the wine! A friend just told me this looks like a Christmas brunch idea…
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read, The New Vintage Kitchen