Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

The idea of stuffing a mushroom has been around in North America since the mid 1950’s when Italian-Americans began utilizing the ample supply of white button mushrooms.  Italians from the south of Italy already knew how to stuff tomatoes, zucchini flowers and peppers.  When they emigrated to America, zucchini flowers weren’t in abundance like they were back home and so it was only a matter of time before the mushroom was included. The Italian classic stuffing of breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, olive oil and Parmesan made its way into mushroom caps.  From there, cooks expanded the stuffing to include ingredients such as sausage, crab meat, artichoke and so on.

These little hors d’oeuvres not only taste great but are the perfect size for finger food. Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years both as food and for medicinal purposes. They are often classified as a vegetable or a herb, but they are actually fungi. They have very little sodium and fat, and 8 to 10 percent of the dry weight is fiber. Mushrooms are an ideal for people following a weight management program or a diet for high blood pressure.

Makes 12 medium-sized mushrooms
adapted from Skinny Taste

14 oz. (1 package) fresh mushrooms, stems separated
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
4 cups fresh baby spinach, rinsed and towel dry
4 slices center cut bacon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 200c (400°F). Lightly spray a foil lined baking pan or baking dish with cooking spray. Remove stems from mushrooms and mince fine. Heat a medium-sized skillet, add spinach and cook until it wilts (about 2 minutes).  Remove from the pan, squeeze excess liquid and finely chop. Set aside. Dry the skillet, add bacon and cook on low heat until bacon is cooked through. Set aside on paper towel and then coarsely chop. Clean the skillet and add olive oil. Add garlic and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add minced mushroom stems and sauté until soft. Remove from heat and combine mushroom stems with sautéed spinach, bacon, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese.

Season mushroom caps with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fill mushrooms with spinach mixture, rounding tops off. Place in an oven-safe dish and lightly spray the tops with oil. Bake 20 minutes or until golden. Eat warm.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Skinny Taste says you can you make these vegetarian by replacing the bacon with a little Feta cheese and chopped fresh herbs. Make these ahead of time by preparing the stuffing ahead, then fill and bake them right before serving. Only 34 calories each or for those of you on Weight Watchers, only 1 point each.