My whole life, I’ve randomly craved a specific food or cuisine only to indulge in it for days or even weeks. A couple of years ago I went complete left field of Greek cuisine and made stir-fry every other day. Another time it was protein pancakes. Now it’s mushroom everything. Whenever I dine I order a mushroom omelet or mushroom burger, and at least once a week I’ll whip up a quick dinner of mushrooms, onions, garlic, olive oil and wine. It’s simple, tasty, and any leftover wine is always put to good use for drinking.
Being mushroom obsessed, I began searching for different ways to cook the fleshy fungus, with a Greek style if possible. That’s when I found a great recipe on “The Greek Vegan,” a blog dedicated to healthy Greek vegan recipes. Thus, this blog is all about mushrooms Greek style—stifado me manitaria (mushroom stifado).
Stifado is a Greek stew made with onions, tomatoes, wine, cinnamon and other spices, and is commonly made with a central ingredient such as meat, game, seafood, and now as I’ve happily discovered, mushrooms. Using mushrooms or other vegetables will make those long days of fasting from meat much easier.
The recipe for this mushroom stifado is the same base recipe my dad makes at home, except he uses beef or lamb. With any stifado, the trick is creating a flavorful sauce that you’ll want to savor every last drop of. The sauce can be easily modified to your taste preference, like adding more or fewer spices, or varying the amount of wine, even using tomato paste instead of tomato sauce. Just try different combinations each time. Once you get your sauce the way you like it, the hearty part of the stew becomes versatile. Whatever ingredient you prefer, be sure the onions equal the weight of the main ingredient. If you use three cups of mushrooms, use three cups of onions. Actually, you can use more mushrooms, since mushrooms shrink as they cook.
Below is my “go to” stifado recipe, mushroom style. Follow along or make it your own. I do suggest grabbing some fresh psomi (bread) and enjoy the wonderful taste of stifado.
-3 cups mushroom variety (shiitake or portabella)
-3 cups pearl onions
-¼ cup olive oil
-4 cups spicy V8 juice
-1 cup red wine
-1 medium tomato, diced (or a can of diced tomatoes)
-1 10 oz can tomato sauce
-1 Tablespoon oregano
-1 cinnamon stick
-3 garlic cloves, whole
-4 garlic cloves, crushed
-1 oz container pickling spice
1. Clean the mushrooms by lightly brushing the tops with a damp towel. If using portabella mushrooms or larger shiitake mushrooms, cut into halves or quarters. Set aside.
2. Peel the pearl onions and chop the garlic and set aside.
3. Cut a thick square of cheesecloth and pour the pickling spice and the 3 cloves of garlic into the middle of the cheesecloth and tightly tie together cheesecloth with twine. This is your spice bag.
4. In a medium pot, heat olive oil and add the mushrooms. Lightly brown (about 5 minutes) on low to medium heat.
5. In the pot, add V8 juice, diced tomato, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, turn down heat to low-to-medium heat.
6. Add the wine, spice bag, cinnamon stick, oregano, bay leaf and onions and garlic. The mushrooms should be covered with liquid, so add more if need be.
7. Keep the heat on low and let the stew cook slowly to thicken the sauce. This will take about 2 hours. Be sure to occasionally stew the pot and season to taste if necessary.
8. Cook until mushrooms and onions are tender and the sauce has thickened.
9. Garnish with oregano and serve with sliced bread and enjoy!