When it comes to feeding a crowd, two things generally happen: expensive premade dishes pack the table, and those with special diets are left with precut fruit, naked greens, and a bare baked potato. This year’s Montana Cup meals proved it doesn’t have to be that way.

Dinner’s salads got the Twice as Tasty treatment, but North Flathead Yacht Club also had vegans and vegetarians fully covered with marinated and grilled Portobello mushrooms. NFYC also brought in gorgeous Yukon River Coho salmon fillets from Flathead Fish & Seafood Co. and top sirloin steaks provided by regional grocery chain Super 1 Foods. I decided to whip up some sauces that could accompany any option or the sides of salad and baked potato, relying on our local Kalispell Kreamery and my own canning shelves.
Romesco Sauce

Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
6 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed

Stir together the marinade ingredients: wine, oil, juice, and basil. Pour a little marinade in the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch pan, place the mushrooms in stem side up, and pour the remaining marinade over the top. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Place the mushrooms stem side down on a medium-hot grill; cover, open the vents, and cook about 3–4 minutes, until moist on that side. Turn and cook an additional 3–4 minutes, until just firm to the touch on top. Serve with Yogurt-Dill Sauce and/or Romesco Sauce (see below). Serves 6.

Tips & Tricks
  • If you’ve been following along, you know I love to grill vegetables. Mushrooms are no exception; actually, their texture makes them more like grilling meat than many other vegetables. So watch and turn them with the same care you would fish or steak to avoid overcooking.
  • We simply marinated and grilled these mushrooms for a crowd, allowing people to top them as they wished with sauces (see below) or lay them on the accompanying green salad. You could also substitute them for hamburgers, sliding one into each bun and dressing it with your burger basics or an upscale set of flavors.
  • At home, we often stuff these giant mushrooms before grilling them, finely dicing the removed mushroom stems and sautéing them with minced garlic, peppers, onion, cheese, and spices. Fill the mushrooms with the stuffing when you flip them and then complete the grilling time.

Twice as Tasty

These two sauces are highly versatile yet work well on the same plate. They also offer something for everyone: either can be served on meat or veg, one is dairy-free and one nut-free, one is vegetarian and one vegan, and neither contains gluten. If you are making your own yogurt or have a local dairy, set a cup aside every time you plan to make a batch of the Yogurt-Dill Sauce; because the sauce is so simple, the quality of the yogurt shines through. The same goes for the herbs in both recipes: homegrown ones will make it taste that much better. For the Romesco Sauce, I pull out a jar of Marinated Red Bell Peppers, courtesy of Eugenia Bone’s Well-Preserved. But don’t despair if your cupboard doesn’t hold the same; I explain in Tips and Tricks how to adapt the recipe for freshly grilled bell peppers or a jar of store-bought ones.

Yogurt-Dill Sauce

  • Servings: 1-1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
1-1/2 cups Fresh Yogurt
1–2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
dash of hot pepper sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit 1 hour or more in the refrigerator before serving so that the flavors can blend. Serve over Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, salmon, steaks, or potatoes, or thin with 1/4–1/2 cup of olive oil to use as a salad dressing. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Romesco Sauce

  • Servings: 1-1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
1 pint jar Marinated Red Bell Peppers
1/4 cup almonds
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 home-smoked dried serrano or pinch of hot red pepper flakes

Drain the peppers, reserving the lemon oil they are packed in. Process the almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground; add the herbs and spices and process until finely ground. Add the roasted red peppers; process until the sauce is smooth but thick. Thin to your desired thickness with the reserved lemon oil, adjusting the spices as needed to taste. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature before serving to let the flavors combine. The sauce can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 1 week; bring it back to room temperature and stir before serving. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Tips & Tricks
  • Eugenia Bone’s Marinated Red Bell Peppers recipe packs roasted red peppers into a mix of lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and olive oil; adds a few slivers of garlic; and then processes the jars in a boiling water bath. If you’re substituting home roasted or store-bought red bells, add 2 cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, stirring in a squeeze of lemon and extra-virgin olive oil as needed to your preferred thickness.
  • Peppers are typically roasted over a flame or under a broiler, but surprise—we prefer to grill them. Simply split the peppers in open lengthwise, removing the seeds and membranes. Lay them on a medium-hot grill and cook, skin side down, for about 2 minutes, until the downward side chars and blisters, and then flip and grill an additional couple of minutes, until slightly charred and heated through. Place them in a brown paper bag, folding it shut, for 5–10 minutes, until cool enough to handle, and then pull out the peppers and peel off the skins.
  • Almonds are traditional in Spanish romesco, but you can substitute hazelnuts or other nuts. For less of the rich roasted pepper flavor, throw in some tomato—grilled, of course.

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