Roasted portobello mushrooms with greens, goat cheese and pear-onion jam
I’ve been spending a lot of time with Shearwater lately, which might have a little something to do with the fact that my boyfriend has a huge crush on Jonathan Meiburg, but also because I finally spent a little more time with their album that came out earlier this year, Animal Joy. While Animal Joy got my attention pretty quickly, their overall catalog might take a little more time — a lot of the songs build slowly, like the opener on 2008’s Rook, “On The Death Of The Waters”: It begins with Meiburg’s voice and a piano, then halfway through explodes with heavy guitars, drums, horns and woodwinds.
That album is perhaps their best known, and it combines the dramatic, majestic music with haunting lyrics about life, death and nature — “Rooks” is essentially about a bird apocalypse (side note: Meiburg is an ornithologist), and probably the most relevant to this dish. We made “nests” using portobello mushrooms and cooked kale and arugula, but they don’t have anything in them that resembles eggs because all the birds are gone from their nests (and dead). The pear-onion jam on top takes a long time to cook as the flavors blend together and it gets better with time, and the onions go from spicy to sweet as they soften and caramelize on the stove — not too far off from how it can take a while for Shearwater’s music to sink in, there are so many layers that go into each song, and as a whole, the music has gone from grim to an album that even has “joy” in its title. That’s not to say Animal Joy is a uniformly happy record, but it doesn’t feel so heavy and there are more moments of driving rock. Also, you need to listen to the song “Animal Life,” as it makes my head explode in a way that very few songs have done; kind of like what I felt the first time I listened to Owen Pallett/Final Fantasy.
Makes four nests.
Adapted from The Sweets Life. This can be made a couple days in advance, and if you’re short on time, you can substitute caramelized onions and diced pears. Also, this makes more than needed for the nests, so use the rest with cheese and crackers, or mixed in with other cooked veggies.
3 cups chopped onions (about two large onions)
2 cups chopped pears
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger (fresh would be great too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
• Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add onions and cook on high for five minutes until soft, then turn down to medium heat and cook for at least 35 minutes, until they begin to caramelize (stir occasionally).
• Add the pears, cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, salt and cayenne, mix well, and cook for another 35 minutes or so, until it cooks down to a thick mixture without too much liquid.
4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned with the caps removed
2 tightly packed cups of chopped kale
2 cups arugula
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Olive oil for cooking
• Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
• Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add garlic and and kale and cook, mixing occasionally, until kale turns a bright green. Add the arugula, mix, and continue to cook until arugula is wilted, just a couple minutes. Set aside.
• Lay mushrooms cap-side up and bake for 10 minutes, until a little bit of liquid starts bubbling around them.
• Flip the mushrooms over. Fill caps with the greens, then top with a couple spoonfuls of pear-onion jam and a tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese.
• Bake for another 15 minutes and serve warm.