Stuffed Persimmons with Mushrooms, Bulgur and Feta
Serves 4 as an entrée or 8 as an appetizer
8 firm Fuyu persimmons, tops sliced off and half of the insides scooped out
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped and divided
1 cup bulgur (quick-cooking works fine in this recipe)
2 cups cold water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup Spanish onion, small dice
1/3 cup carrot, small dice
½ cup celery, small dice
½ cup fennel, small dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seed, whole
¼ teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 ounces assorted mushrooms, such as shitake, oyster and cremini, small dice
2½ cups country-style bread, crust removed, cubed and toasted
1/3 cup dry white wine
½ to 1 cup vegetable stock
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the persimmons in a large baking dish and drizzle the olive oil evenly into the cavities of the persimmons. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme evenly into the cavities and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 40 minutes.
2. In a saucepan over high heat, ccombine the bulgur, water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, for approximately 15 minutes until done. The bulgur should be bloomed and water should be completely absorbed. If there is any remaining water, drain it and discard. Transfer the bulgur to a plate and set aside.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery and fennel, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the fennel seed, the rest of the thyme, sage, oregano and garlic and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
4. Return the pan to the heat and add 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté until golden brown. Deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping up all the bits of vegetables from the bottom of the pan, and cook for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of vegetable stock and cook for another minute for the flavors to meld. Transfer the mushrooms and all the cooking liquid to the large bowl of cooked vegetables.
5. Add 1½ cups of cooked bulgur, all of the toasted bread, the egg, parsley, lemon zest and feta cheese to the large bowl. Gently mix to combine. The mixture should be quite moist; add remaining ½ cup vegetable stock to the mixture only if needed. Check seasoning and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary.
6. Divide the stuffing mixture among the roasted persimmons and firmly pack it into the cavities. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375° for approximately 20 minutes. (If there is any stuffing left over, bake it in a small pan on its own.) Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve on a platter with any extra stuffing and a scattering of parsley leaves.