Monday, April 8, 2013

Baked, Stuffed Avocados with Mushroom,
Walnut, Feta and Thyme (Papoutsakia Tou Avokado)


Last week I jumped on the Meatless Mondays A–Z bandwagon, hosted by Heather over at Better With Veggies. It's a great system she's got going to encourage people to experiment using a different ingredient each fortnight. Last week we started with A for Avocado. Recipes are submitted using Heather's linky tool and are displayed on the Better With Veggies blog for others to peruse and be inspired by – it really is a wonderful way to discover new recipes and meet other bloggers.

Better With Veggies

Each ingredient is featured for two weeks. The first week is for those adventurous enough to create something using that ingredient (you can read about my little "adventure" last week with avocado dolmades here), and the second week is an opportunity to cook something using that ingredient that is not necessarily your own recipe.

For the second week, participants are encouraged to use one of the recipes submitted in the first week, and I've chosen to adapt a gorgeous, baked, stuffed avocado dish that was sent in by Kait from Chickadee Says.


With a few adjustments to Greekify this dish, I am absolutely in love with the result, and I couldn't believe how easy it was! For the stuffing I used a couple of ingredients from Kait's original recipe – mushrooms and walnuts, which are already widely used in Greek cooking – and I added feta, garlic, oregano and thyme to complete the Greek ingredient set list.

I used Swiss Brown mushrooms, which are just small Portobellos. I think they have more flavour than white mushrooms and they're such pretty little things aren't they?


Oh my god, this dish is so tasty, soft, crunchy and yum that I ate both avocado halves in one sitting (one was meant for Tony). I don't think I've ever eaten a whole avocado before. But don't worry folks, Tony will still get some. I have plenty of filling left over and more avocados in the pantry :)


There is a traditional Greek stuffed eggplant dish called "Papoutsakia" which means "little shoes", because someone thought the shape of the halved eggplant looks a bit like a shoe. Well it kind of does . . . a little. But a zucchini definitely doesn't. For some reason they call the zucchini version Papoutsakia as well. I can tell you now, I'd eat my cat before I'd be convinced a zucchini looks anything like a shoe (shut up all you people that know I made zucchini papoutsakia not that long ago).

A halved avocado on the other hand, does look like a shoe and when I saw Kait's recipe on Meatless Mondays A–Z last week, I knew immediately that I would be turning this into an Avocado Papoutsakia. And I know this goes against everything Greek and traditional, but I'm naming it "Papoutsakia Tou Avokado" (Little Shoes of Avocado) – such a cute name don't you think?

I love how intensely green the flesh becomes when the avocado is baked, and the taste changes to a deep, burnt-buttery kind of flavour, slightly bitter but still creamy. Some people think avocados shouldn't be cooked at all. The flavour does change and they do go soft, but you have to try it – you just might be pleasantly surprised!


Baked, Stuffed Avocado with Mushroom, Walnut, Feta and Thyme
(Papoutsakia Tou Avokado)

Adapted from Pestoed Mushroom-Stuffed Baked Avocados by Kait at Chickadee Says

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2–3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300g Swiss Brown (or Portobello) mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 small avocados

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Heat oil in frying pan and cook mushrooms until they start to sweat. When the mushroom juices are bubbling, add garlic, thyme and oregano and keep frying until the liquid had evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, halve the avocados, remove the stones and shell out some of the flesh. Set the flesh aside until needed – this will be combined with the stuffing.
  4. Transfer cooled mushroom mixture to a food processor, add walnuts and pulse on and off for 30 seconds.
  5. Place mushroom and walnut mixture into a mixing bowl and add crumbled feta, reserved avocado pulp, salt and pepper to taste. Mix until combined.
  6. Place avocado shells on a baking tray lined with foil. You can use a neat little trick to keep the avocados level by placing a walnut under the thinner end of each avocado (see photo below).
  7. Spoon mixture into avocado shells and bake for 10 minutes.


And not to forget, I'm also linking this post up with Veggie Mama's Meatless Mondays. Her blog is always a huge source of inspiration for me. Go take a look for a whole lot more veggie recipe ideas.



25 comments:

  1. these look fabulous! i've heard that you shouldn't cook avocado, too, but never knew why. burnt buttery sounds delicious, though. and the fillings! honestly, walnuts and mushrooms make everything taste better in my humble opinion ;)

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    1. You're right about walnuts and mushrooms - it's such an amazing combination of flavours, they were truly made for each other!

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  2. This looks amazing! I've never baked or stuffed an avocado before but I think it's definitely something I need to do :) Just discovered your blog, loving it!

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    1. Hi Becca! The flavour of baked avocado is just lovely, but the trick is not to overcook it. 10 minutes is all it needs. I hope you get a chance to try it :) Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you here again soon!!

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  3. I just can't do big amounts of avocado - I don't know why! The stuffing looks delicious though, so I might have to try it in a zucchini or eggplant instead!

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    1. Yeah I have a hard time with too much avocado as well, but somehow managed to do ok with this one! The stuffing can definitely be used other ways - I had some left over from yesterday and stirred about 2 or 3 tablespoons into an omelette mix with some extra cheese and it was delish!

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  4. I do believe that your version sounds better than mine! Oregano, thyme, and feta sound WONDERFUL together- I most definitely will have to try this version. Yum!

    xx Kait

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    1. Thanks Kait!! I think we both did well with this dish. The avocado is the hero after all and it tastes amazing when it's baked!

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  5. I just found your blog and I am already in love. I was a vegetarian when I visited Greece a few years ago and had NO problem finding vegetarian options! I loved it :)

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    1. Hi Becky and welcome!! So lovely to see another new reader. Yes, there are so many meatless delights in Greek cuisine - it's a vegetarian's dream come true!

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  6. Oh my goodness - what a beautiful adaptation and result! I love that you filled the entire avocado and just left a little for scooping! Just beautiful! :)

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    1. Thank you Heather! And thanks again for hosting Meatless Mondays A-Z - I'm so excited about all the ingredients to come!!

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  7. That filling looks incredible! Those mushrooms are my favorite kind to cook with. They are so versatile!

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    1. The Swiss Brown/Portobellos are so tasty aren't they? I love them too. Especially in risotto :)

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  8. your avocados look SO good! I love the flavors in this filling - I cannot wait to bake more avocados.

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    1. Thanks Kristina! The stuffing has such a hearty flavour - I think it will go great with many things! It might even work as a base for mushroom burgers!

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  9. What a great idea! Those stuffed avocados must taste amazing. Love their color...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Thanks Rosa. The green of the avocado becomes so intense when it's cooked. I love it too..

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  10. Oh I love this recipe! You have such a beautiful blog, first time here and look forward to exploring more.

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    1. Thank you and welcome themustardseed!! Hope to see you here again soon :)

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  11. reserved avocado pulp, what do you mean?..is to scoop it out and put it aside and then mix it with mushroom and walnut mixture? or Not?

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    1. Hi Anonymous. Yes, in step 3 of the recipe you scoop out some of the flesh of the avocado which is then mixed with the mushroom and walnut mixture. I hope you had a chance to try this dish. It's really very tasty :)

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  12. Does this work better with ripe or unripe avocados?

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    1. Good question! Because the avocado softens when cooked, it's best to use fruit that is on the slightly firmer side of ripe. I wouldn't go too firm though – I think this might increase the bitterness which naturally occurs after cooking avocado.

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  13. I made this recipe....mine did not look as pretty as your picture, BUT the taste....was beyond delish!! Thank you for sharing!

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