SHIITAKE TORNADOES IN
CASHEW CREAM SAUCE
Picture-perfect, this sumptuous and very festive main dish makes a showy presentation on the Thanksgiving holiday table. Adorned in black sesame seeds, these 12 striking globes rise up from a rosy pool of seductive cashew sauce and entice the inquisitive palate.
To ease the holiday stress, have the cooked brown rice ready and make both the tornadoes and the sauce the day before. Stored them separately and assemble the dish shortly before serving. Briefly warm the tornadoes in a 350-degree F. oven and the sauce on the stovetop.
Presentation is everything with this dish. It’s so simple, yet makes these sesame coated balls look amazing. Hunt for long sprigs of rosemary to poke into each “tornado.” I just know that when you bring this dish to the table, you’ll hear some very pleasing ooohhs and aaaahhhs.
Present the tornadoes on a recessed platter that will hold a pool of sauce and allow you to garnish the edges. If you can’t locate black sesame seeds, roll the tornadoes in toasted or natural sesame seeds and they will still make an awesome main dish.
Yield: Makes 12 balls; 8 to 12 servings
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps cut into quarters
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon tamari
1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
3 cups cooked short-grain brown rice
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup black or regular sesame seeds
12 long sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half, for garnish
1. To make the tornadoes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine the mushrooms, onion, tamari, and tarragon in a large, deep skillet. Add water and cook and stir over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked and the onion is softened and transparent. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
3. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor and add the olives. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl.
4. Add the rice, oats, walnuts, salt, and pepper and mix well. Pour the black sesame seeds into a deep, medium bowl.
5. Using your hands, form the mushroom mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll each one in the sesame seeds to coat well. Place the coated balls on the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.
Cashew Cream Sauce
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons tamari
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 cup cashews, finely ground
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
1. To make the sauce, combine the vegetable broth, tomato paste, tamari, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, marjoram, and cayenne in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Add the cashews, whisk and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. The sauce will continue to thicken upon standing. Add extra vegetable broth to thin the sauce as needed. Before serving, stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
3. To serve, spoon the sauce into a large, deep platter and arrange the tornadoes over the sauce. To garnish, poke a rosemary sprig into each tomato half and push them into the tops of the tornadoes, so they stand upright.
Note: If not serving immediately, refrigerate the tornadoes and sauce separately. Warm the tornadoes in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes before serving. Heat the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes.