My name is Isabelle, and I'm a cheeseaholic.
I guess I should probably introduce myself properly though, huh? Let's start that over. My name is Isabelle, and I'm the blogger behind Crumb: A Food Blog, though today I'm taking over the Mushrooms Canada blog to share one of my favourite summertime appetizers.
So, now that we've got that out of the way, let's get back to talking cheese. More specifically, this delicious vegetarian variation on the classic Mexican appetizer known as queso fundido, which quite literally translates to "melted cheese".
And yes, that's totally what it is... a skillet full of ooey, gooey, melty cheese.
The traditional topping for queso fundido is chorizo, a spicy pork sausage, but this vegetarian-friendly version swaps it out with a flavourful blend of oyster mushrooms and poblano peppers seasoned with garlic and smoked paprika. I've had other versions of this dish made with button mushrooms, but I much prefer oyster mushrooms because their delicate texture and earthy flavour is the perfect counterpoint to the melty richness of the cheese.
The best part about this dish, though, is how easy it is for summertime entertaining. You can prep the filling and layer everything into the skillet ahead of time, and then shove it in the oven (or better yet, the barbecue!) at the last minute to melt everything down to gooey perfection.
The only warning I have is that you absolutely must wait until your guests arrive to complete this final step. Partially because you want to serve this dip right away, while it's still bubbling hot and melty, but mostly because otherwise there's a good chance you'll eat the whole pan on your own while no one's looking. (Not that I have firsthand experience with this or anything.) Serve with a big pile of tortilla chips and prepare to be the most popular hostess in the 'hood.
Queso Fundido with Oyster Mushrooms and Poblanos
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large poblano chili, seeded and cut into strips
4 oz oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp smoked paprika
3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced (optional)
Preheat oven to 425F.
In a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat, sauté the poblano pepper in olive oil until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are softened and lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes longer. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in the smoked paprika.
Sprinkle half of the cheese into a small cast-iron skillet or a small oven-safe casserole dish. Spoon the cooked chile and mushroom mixture onto the cheese in an even layer, then sprinkle with green onions and jalapeno. Top with the remaining cheese. (Depending on the size of your skillet, it may look dangerously full at this point. If so, push down gently on the cheese to cram it all in there... trust me, it'll all melt down in a few minutes anyway, so fill that skillet right up to the brim.)
Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and well browned on top. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, and serve immediately with lots of tortilla chips for dipping.
If this ooey-gooey recipe doesn't have you craving a summer patio, I don't know what will! I can't wait to show off with this one. Thanks again to Isabelle for joining us in our kitchen!
Be sure to follow along with Isabelle at her blog Crumb: A Food Blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.