What Is 'Saganaki'?
In Greece when we refer to something as ’Saganaki’ it usually means two things. For one there is a type of cheese that is called 'Saganaki'. This type of cheese is for frying purposes only. It gains a nice crust while it remains soft on the inside. If you ever went to a Greek restaurant then you may know it as the cheese on fire.
For two, the word is used to describe the plate in which we serve a ’Saganaki’ in. The small round plate that has two handles on the side (the one you would call a baking dish).
And all in all, the word ‘Saganaki’ refers to either the type of cheese, the ‘Saganaki plate’ or anything that’s cooked with cheese and served in the ‘Saganaki plate’. Like this Delicious Mushroom Saganaki aka Cheesy Mushroom Bake.
The most famous Saganaki versions in Greece (except the cheese itself) is usually the Seafood ones, like Prawns Saganaki and Mussels Saganaki.
Mushrooms Are A Satisfying Meat Substitute
Since I’m a fan of Saganaki I created my own version. Using mouthwatering mushrooms, which I absolutely love to eat. I think mushrooms are a great substitute when you want to skip meat in one of your meals. To my mind, mushrooms can mimic the strong and rich flavor of the meat. And Hey, they’re also low in calories as well. In other words, this Cheesy Mushroom Bake can easily be served as a fulfilling Vegetarian main dish.
So my Cheesy Mushroom Bake (Saganaki) is made like this:
I heat some olive oil, toss in the mushrooms keeping them nice and crispy transfer them to the baking dish (or Saganaki dish).
The next thing I do is to add some fresh tomato sauce (I prefer my own homemade one but a canned one will do just fine), on top, along with some peppers, and coat everything with some Swiss and Gruyere Cheese. And then all there is left to do is to bake! Pretty simple stuff.
And I know, I know… Swiss cheese doesn’t really remind you of a Greek dish but trust me, it’s the perfect cheese that creates the best ‘Melting-Cheesy- Goodness’ on top. With a bit of Gruyere cheese on top of that to create a nice cheese crust. There is only one word to describe it: DIVINE!
Buy Yourself Some Bread
Once you try it, you will want to have every bit out of this sauce. So my advice is to have some bread for dipping. When I made this Mushroom Saganaki at our restaurant, our waiter went crazy asking me to try it.
When he did try it though he felt sorry he couldn’t dip some bread in its sauce (because of his gluten intolerance) and enjoy it fully and properly. So I'm just saying... You might need to buy some bread 😉
Get the recipe for the Fresh Tomato Sauce Here...
Cheesy Mushroom Bake With Fresh Tomato Sauce (Manitaria Saganaki)
- 250 grams (about 6 medium-sized) white button mushrooms cut in half
- 6 tablespoons fresh tomato sauce (see recipe here) or canned
- 1⁄2 green bell pepper sliced into strips
- 2 slices Swiss cheese
- 30 grams Gruyère cheese
- fresh parsley chopped
- extra virgin olive oil
- small baking dish
- kosher salt
- Preheat oven at 250 °C/ 482°F.
- Heat a good splash of olive oil in a frying pan over high heat.
- Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Shake the pan a few times until mushrooms get a nice golden color. Do this for only a minute or so. We don't want to cook and soften the mushrooms. Just to give them a golden 'crust'.
- Transfer mushrooms to a baking dish.
- In the same pan add another splash of olive oil. Reduce heat to medium. Add the peppers and cook till they soften slightly. Transfer peppers from pan to the baking dish as well.
- Coat mushrooms and peppers with the tomato sauce.
- Sprinkle some parsley on top. Coat everything with the Swiss cheese slices and the grated Gruyere cheese.
- Bake for about 5 minutes or until cheese melts completely.
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