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Cheer Perfection

Upgrade your holiday meal with recipes from great American chefs

Cambridge, Mass.

Vegetarian guests will particularly love this meat-free dish, which is flavored with earthy porcini mushrooms and aged Gouda. It’s just one of many inspired recipes dreamed up by the James Beard Award-winning chef and 2010 “Top Chef Masters” contestant for her modern Mediterranean joint.


1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb. white mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 t. sugar
1/2 lb. fresh spinach
2 c. short-grain brown rice, cooked
1 t. fresh thyme, chopped
6 bell peppers (about 2 lb.)
1 1/2 c. aged Gouda, grated

1. Put porcini in bowl, cover with 1/2 cup warm water and let steep until soft, approximately 15 minutes. Carefully remove mushrooms without disturbing layer of grit at bottom of bowl. Chop fine. Let porcini-infused water sit to allow any remaining grit to sink to bottom, then carefully pour liquid into clean bowl, leaving grit behind.

2. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium. Add onion and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.

3. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in all mushrooms. Cover and cook 3 minutes.

4. Remove lid, season again with salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Add porcini liquid, tomatoes and sugar; cook 5 minutes. Add spinach, toss a few times and cook until wilted. Add rice and thyme, and toss until heated through. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1 cup cheese.

5. Preheat oven to 400. Cut 1/4 inch off tops of peppers and scoop out seeds and ribs. Season inside peppers with salt and pepper and fill with rice mixture.

6. Stand peppers in snug-fitting deep-dish pan. Add 1/4 inch water, cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until peppers are tender, approximately 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 5 minutes to melt.

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